Wednesday News: Causality

NC'S BLACK BABIES ARE DYING IN THE ABSENCE OF MEDICAID EXPANSION: Deaths of African-American babies declined most quickly in states that expanded Medicaid coverage, researchers have found. North Carolina isn’t one of those states. More than 15% of North Carolina women ages 19-44 don’t have health insurance, 10th most among states, according to the United Health Foundation. North Carolina is one of 14 states that has not adopted Medicaid expansion as allowed by the Obama-era Affordable Care Act. States that expanded Medicaid, which allowed more low-income adults to have health insurance, also had greater overall declines in infant death rates, said a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Those improved rates were driven by declines in black babies’ deaths.

JOSH STEIN WARNS LOTTERY COMMISSION ABOUT ONLINE GAMING: The colorful, fast-moving games are designed to keep people betting, and lottery officials say they're the future of the industry – attractive to younger players who'd rather play on their cellphones than go out and buy a scratch-off ticket. But many people say the online games are too much like video sweepstakes, which are not legal in North Carolina. Stein sent a letter to lottery commissioners this week saying, "these games may qualify as video games that we as a state have banned." Roxboro Police Chief David Hess, who also is president of the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police, agreed. Critics across the political spectrum say that, just like video sweepstakes, the online games are designed to be more addictive than the real-world lottery.

ATTORNEY GETS PROBATION (OF COURSE) FOR ILLEGAL LOBBYING FOR BAIL BONDSMEN: An attorney received probation and will be disbarred after pleading guilty to lobbying-related charges that include criminal contempt and obstruction of justice, North Carolina regulators said. Mark Bibbs, a Raleigh lawyer, also pleaded guilty to four counts of unregistered lobbying in Wake County Superior Court on Monday, according to Secretary of State Elaine Marshall's office. Bibbs was indicted in 2018 on charges he lobbied legislators on behalf of a bail bonds company without properly registering, The Insider news service reported. He had also been accused of lying about his actions to investigators with the Secretary of State, which oversees government lobbying. Bibbs had lobbied legislators in 2016 to oppose a measure that made changes to bail bonds regulations and expanded the power of the insurance commissioner to discipline bail bond agents.

TRUMP'S LAWYERS BEG SENATE TO HURRY UP AND ACQUIT, MCCONNELL SWEATING WITNESS VOTES: White House lawyers pleaded with senators Tuesday to acquit President Trump based on “the Constitution and your common sense,” concluding their defense even as Senate GOP leaders struggled to block demands for new witnesses that could throw the trial into turmoil. In a closed-door meeting after closing remarks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told colleagues he doesn’t have the votes to block witnesses, according to people familiar with his remarks who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe them. Just four GOP senators would have to join with Democrats to produce the majority needed to call witnesses — an outcome McConnell has sought to avoid since it could invite new controversy and draw out the divisive proceedings. An initial vote to allow witnesses, expected Friday, does not ensure witnesses would actually be called, since the Senate would have to subsequently hold separate votes on summoning each individual witness. And Trump’s ultimate acquittal still remains all but assured, since a two-thirds vote in the GOP-run Senate would be required to remove him.

TRUMP/NETANYAHU "PEACE PLAN" IS A BIG, STINKING MESS: A president trying to prevail in an impeachment trial stood with an Israeli prime minister under indictment on Tuesday to announce a long-delayed plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the result sounded more like a road map for their own futures than for the Middle East. For President Trump, it is a plan that builds on his decision to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem — a huge political success among his conservative Jewish donors and evangelicals that, contrary to predictions, did not touch off a violent reaction in the region. Mr. Trump now enters the heart of his election campaign declaring that he has delivered a plan that makes Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel and relegates the Palestinian capital to a suburb, and one that Mr. Trump, in a triumph of real-estate branding, is suddenly calling “East Jerusalem.” As Mr. Trump acknowledged, Washington would no longer play the role of neutral arbiter — even while vowing to be Israel’s source of protection. Instead, the United States has drawn the lines in a series of maps that sketch out a future Palestinian state that is so gerrymandered that it requires the construction of a giant tunnel across Israel to connect two areas of Palestinian control. Democratic senators wrote in a letter to Mr. Trump on Tuesday that “the timing of this proposal to coincide with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s indictment on bribery charges also raises disturbing questions about your intention to intervene in the Israeli election process.”