President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris meet virtually with the United States Conference of Mayors at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del, Nov. 23, 2020.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris meet virtually with the United States Conference of Mayors at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del, Nov. 23, 2020.


Carolyn Kaster/AP

Top of The World — our morning news roundup written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

In a long-awaited official acknowledgement for President-elect Joe Biden to proceed with the transition to his new administration, the General Services Administration has formally alerted the winner of the Nov. 3 election that outgoing President Donald Trump is handing over the reins of the US government after a 16-day standoff during which Trump tried to subvert the electoral process with false claims of fraud.

“As you know, the GSA administrator does not pick or certify the winner of a presidential election,” wrote administrator Emily Murphy in a letter sent Monday to Biden. “Instead, the GSA administrator’s role under the Act is extremely narrow: to make resources and services available in connection with a presidential transition.”

Murphy’s green light is known as “ascertainment” and would ordinarily not have been an obstacle to beginning the series of steps that lead up to inauguration on Jan. 20. But $6.3 million in government funds available to the president-elect — as well as access to key information provided by personnel on the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis — had been held up.

Biden’s transition team will also now have office space inside various agency buildings, in addition to federal resources needed for conducting background checks on cabinet and staff picks. The director of Biden’s transition, Yohannes Abraham, referred to Murphy’s move as a definitive decision that would help the former vice president’s aides “have a full accounting of our national security interests.”

What The World is following

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Monday that it’s developing a mobile app containing a “digital passport” that would show vaccination certificates and COVID-19 test results. Nick Careen, IATA senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo and security, said the technology would “get people traveling again safely.” Australian carrier Qantas has thrown its weight behind the proposal, and the parent company of British Airways has been working together with the software developer to run a trial with the app — with an eye toward launch in the first quarter of 2021.

Tensions are boiling over in the southwestern Syrian city of Daraa, where government troops and former rebels have been clashing. A string of assassinations there highlights the problems that President Bashar al-Assad is up against in solidifying control in regions where the civil war ostensibly ended. The whole conflict essentially began in Daraa in 2011, and then Russian soldiers facilitated reconciliation between foes in 2018. But violence recently erupted again, presenting a major challenge to stability in Syria.

From The World

Blinken will 'repair some of the damage' to US diplomacy, says John Brennan

Former CIA director John Brennan has worked closely with Antony Blinken, who is expected to be announced as President-elect Joe Biden's secretary of state pick on Tuesday. He told The World's host Marco Werman that Blinken is well-positioned to start renewing America's ties to traditional allies.

"I think Tony has the deft touch needed. He is in many respects a quintessential diplomat ... he has an approach and attitude and I think a vision also that is going to allow the United States to repair some of the damage that has been done," Brennan said.

"I think he's not going to cut corners. He really is going to spend time talking to the United States' friends abroad. But also, I think he's going to deal very forthrightly with some of our adversaries that are out there."

Air transport sector faces sky-high challenges flying COVID-19 vaccines to far-flung places

To soar past the pandemic, aviation planners are busy sorting out the logistics and distribution difficulties of bringing delicate cargo to distant locales.

For more insights, The World's Carol Hills spoke to Glyn Hughes, the global head of cargo for the International Air Transport Association.

Amid esports boom, China introduces new restrictions to regulate the industry

While most international sporting events like the Olympics were canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, last month China hosted the esports League of Legends annual World Championship in Shanghai.

The Korean team DAMWON won first place, but China takes the prize for most esports fans in the world. Amid this esports boom, China has recently introduced new restrictions to try to regulate and support the growing industry — and curb internet addictions.

Bright spot

The pandemic has put streaming services like Netflix front and center. So when this bar owner in Toronto was forced to get creative because of the crisis, many wondered why he converted the Farside bar into a VHS store. "A lot of these streaming services don't have a lot of the classics," owner Mike Reynolds said. Cheers to some VHS nostalgia ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

In case you missed it

Listen: President-elect Biden signals shift from Trump’s foreign policy with cabinet picks

Vice President Joe Biden is shown with his arms folded next to then-Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken in the Oval Office.

Vice President Joe Biden and then-Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken in the Oval Office at the White House, Nov. 1, 2013.


Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/File Photo

President-elect Joe Biden is signaling a stark shift from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies with his likely selection of centrist Antony Blinken for the coveted secretary of state slot. And, Ethiopia has profited from Chinese investment, which is credited with restarting the East African nation's economy. But an internal struggle between Ethiopia's central government and the opposition party that runs the northern Tigray region poses new challenges. 

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