November 30, 2017

Senate Republicans started the clock for a final vote on their tax plan Wednesday evening, but among the unresolved demands from GOP waverers is a provision to prevent the bill from adding up to $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over 10 years. No serious analysis has suggested the growth from slashing taxes for corporations and other businesses would make up that shortfall, and Republicans haven't offered any evidence. At a Politico Playbook forum on Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that cutting taxes needs to be followed by cutting spending on popular federal programs.

"I analyze this very differently than most," Rubio said. "Many argue that you can't cut taxes because it will drive up the deficit. But we have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future." He suggested reducing benefits and raising the retirement age for future retirees, so people can prepare for the changes. "Tax reform is the economic component of this equation," Rubio said. "When more people are working, there are more taxpayers and more revenue, but that alone won't be enough. You are still going to have a debt problem in the absence of spending cuts."

The broadly unpopular tax bill — rushed through with almost no debate or expert testimony and zero Democratic input — would have wide-ranging and uncertain effects on all Americans. As AARP noted, the legislation already includes $25 billion in automatic Medicare cuts for next year alone, along with $111 billion in other cuts to federal programs, and it would either raise taxes or keep them the same for 6.3 million Americans 65 or older in 2019 and 10.8 million by 2027. President Trump, who is pushing the legislation hard, promised during the campaign he would not change Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. You can watch Rubio's interview at Politico. Peter Weber

11:05 p.m.

As an alternate juror in the Derek Chauvin trial, Lisa Christensen listened to all of the testimony and saw all of the evidence, without having a say in the verdict. Now that the trial is over, she has become the first person chosen for the jury to speak publicly, and during an interview with CBS This Morning on Thursday, Christensen said she believes Chauvin's conviction was fair.

"I felt he was guilty," she said. "I didn't know it would have been guilty on all counts, but I would have said guilty." Last May, Chauvin was recorded arresting George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed Black man, after he was suspected of trying to pass a fake $20 bill. His knee was on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes, and Christensen said she was moved by the testimony from prosecution witness Dr. Martin Tobin, a critical care physician and pulmonologist who is an expert in the physiology of breathing.

Tobin described how Chauvin's use of force slowly suffocated Floyd, who was pinned with his stomach on the ground and hands cuffed behind his back. This "really did it for me," Christensen told CBS This Morning. "I understood it, down to where he said this was the moment that [Floyd] lost his life. That really got to me." As for the defense team, Christensen said they didn't have "a good impact," and attorney Eric Nelson "over-promised in the beginning and didn't live up to what he said he was going to do."

Christensen was dismissed on Monday when the jury went to deliberations. The next day, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter; he will be sentenced in eight weeks. Christensen told CBS This Morning she is still trying to grasp how the situation escalated the way it did. "I just don't understand how it got from a counterfeit $20 bill to a death," she said. "It kind of shocks me." Catherine Garcia

10:05 p.m.

President Biden has chosen Rick Spinrad, a professor of oceanography at Oregon State University, as his pick to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Spinrad has spent more than three decades as an ocean scientist, serving as NOAA's chief scientist during the Obama administration and in leadership positions at the U.S. Office of Naval Research and Oceanographer of the Navy.

The NOAA houses the National Weather Service and is responsible for most of the country's climate science research. The White House has requested from Congress $6.9 billion to fund NOAA, with much of it going to pay for climate science research, Axios reports. Catherine Garcia

9:08 p.m.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sees climate change as "a defining challenge for our generation and a crisis multiplier," and wants the alliance to play a key role in understanding the best way to fight it, while also adapting operations and reducing military emissions.

In an article for Politico Europe, Stoltenberg wrote that climate change is "making the world a more dangerous place." Rising sea levels and extreme weather are "devastating communities, increasing competition for scarce resources, and fueling tensions and conflict," he added. "That's why it's so crucial that NATO sets the gold standard on climate change and security, and then takes action to address it. Climate change threatens global security, so NATO must be part of the response."

On Thursday, Stoltenberg attended the U.S. Leaders Summit on climate change at the invitation of President Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. NATO allies agreed to an "ambitious agenda on climate and security" in February, and Stoltenberg said he expects NATO leaders to approve an action plan at a summit later this year.

The plan would task NATO with using its "unique capacities and expertise to monitor and track climate change," Stoltenberg said, investing in more research and sharing data. NATO soldiers and equipment are facing extreme heat and cold, with critical infrastructure also exposed — the U.S. Department of Defense has found climate change threatens the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, which also houses NATO commands.

There will be an assessment of the impact of climate change on NATO assets and installations, Stoltenberg said, and training and exercises will be adapted. NATO will also decrease its dependence on fossil fuels and prioritize sustainable technologies. "Climate change is a generational challenge that requires a global solution, and NATO is a powerful platform for Europe and North America to tackle shared security challenges together," Stoltenberg said. Catherine Garcia

7:21 p.m.

In order to tackle climate change, it has to be "at the center of a country's national security and foreign policy," Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told world leaders during a virtual global climate summit on Thursday.

Haines said the United States is taking this approach moving forward, adding that climate change "needs to be fully integrated with every aspect of our analysis in order to allow us not only to monitor the threat but also, critically, to ensure that policymakers understand the importance of climate change on seemingly unrelated policies."

On Thursday, the CIA said it is adding a new environmental category to its World Factbook, which will provide data on climate, pollution, infectious diseases, and food security for different countries. The intelligence community's most recent worldwide threat assessment said that the extreme weather caused by climate change will likely force people to leave areas as they become inhabitable, and this could lead to a possible surge in migration and instability. All of this would "exacerbate political instability and humanitarian crises," the report states. Catherine Garcia

5:51 p.m.

Scientists have finally answered the question on all of our minds — or at least a question that was apparently on someone's mind.

After painstaking measurements, calculations, and maybe even a few taste tests, researchers have estimated the number of bubbles produced by a half-pint of "gently poured" lager to be somewhere between 200,000 and two million, ScienceDaily reports.

Not just a side effect of the fermentation process, beer bubbles are actually "important sensory elements of beer tasting" because they "transport flavor and scent compounds," writes the American Chemical Society. But why count them? The better question is why not, according to lead researcher Gerard Liger-Belair, who previously unearthed the number of bubbles in a glass of champagne (spoiler: it's about a million).

Using high-speed photography, intricate carbon dioxide measurements and expert calculations, Liger-Belair and his team were able to track bubble formation from the minute a lager was poured to the second it went flat, reports CNET. But because different beers and different glasses can greatly influence that all-important bubble count, researchers left a pretty wide range in their estimate.

Next, perhaps Liger-Belair's team can tackle a more contentious question: how many bubbles are in regular Sprite compared to McDonald's Sprite? Brigid Kennedy

5:20 p.m.

It sounds like a recent attempt by Andrew Yang to secure an endorsement in his New York City mayoral bid didn't exactly go as planned.

The candidate on Wednesday met with the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City to seek the Democratic LGBTQ organization's endorsement, but he ended up offending its members, The New York Times reports. Yang, according to the report, "cited gay members of his staff as apparent evidence of his openness to the club's concerns, and expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of visiting" the New York gay bar Cubbyhole.

But Yang neglected to focus on "substantive issues that our membership cares about" and "came off poorly," the club's president, Rose Christ, told the Times. One member, Harris Doran, took issue with the fact that Yang "kept calling us 'your community,' like we were aliens," while the Times also cites an online chat that accompanied the forum in which one person wrote, "Gay, gay, gay. Wow. More to us than just that."

Christ also told Politico that Yang "came across like he was a tourist in New York," and member Alejandra Caraballo drew a particularly brutal TV comparison.

"When I see a candidate come in just with Michael Scott levels of cringe and insensitivity, it either tells me Andrew Yang is in over his head or is not listening to his staff," Caraballo told the Times. "Those are both radioactive flashing signs that say he is not prepared to be mayor of New York."

Yang campaign manager Sasha Neha Ahuja told the Times that "I hope Andrew continues to have space for folks to listen with an open heart about the experiences of all communities that have been deeply impacted by years of oppression," while adding that "I apologize if folks felt some type of way about it." Brendan Morrow

5:07 p.m.

Cher has noticed Christopher Meloni too … but not in that way!

Appearing on The Late Late Show on Wednesday night, the singer insisted that her recent tweet about the Law & Order star — which read "CHRISTOPHER MELONI / IS EXCELLENT, / CHARISMATIC ACTOR" — wasn't thirsty and was strictly about his acting, you pervs. "I'd seen his new show, and I do, I like that show," she told James Corden, as reported by Vulture. "I think that it's an excellent show. And underrated. And the acting is really good."

But does she like more than just Meloni's a…cting? "Just because someone is an excellent actor doesn't mean you wanna jump on their bones and roll 'em around in the carpet," Cher scolded. Well that's news. Jeva Lange

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