Manafort ordered by judge to be held away from other prisoners

NEW YORK — Paul Manafort will be kept away from other prisoners while he’s in jail after allegedly tampering with potential witnesses ahead of his trial, a federal judge in Washington said Thursday.

Manafort’s bail was revoked on June 15 after prosecutors accused him of obstructing justice by contacting witnesses. He’s currently at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va. In ordering him to be held apart, Judge Amy Berman Jackson also said Manafort should “be afforded reasonable opportunity” to consult with his lawyer and be accompanied by a federal marshal on his trips to court.

Jackson didn’t explain her reasons for separating him, saying only that “the defendant shall be confined in a corrections facility separate, to the extent practicable, from persons awaiting or service sentences or being held in custody pending appeal.”

Manafort, who served as President Donald Trump’s campaign manager, is fighting charges by special counsel Robert Mueller that he failed to register in the U.S. as an agent of Ukraine, laundered millions of dollars and has obstructed justice by reaching out to witnesses. Those charges will go to trial before Jackson in September. In July, he’s due to stand trial in Virginia on tax and bank fraud charges also brought by Mueller.

—Bloomberg News

Californians could vote to end daylight saving time under bill sent to governor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Californians would be asked in a November ballot measure whether to end the biannual practice of moving their clocks ahead and back to comply with the Daylight Saving Time Act, under a bill the Assembly approved Thursday and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration.

“This bill creates a pathway for California to stay on daylight saving time year-round,” Assemblyman Kansen Chu, a Democrat, told his colleagues before they voted 63-4 to approve his bill.

If an initiative is approved by voters, the Legislature would be given the power, with a two-thirds vote, to initiate an end to the practice of advancing the clock by one hour on the second Sunday each March, and moving the clock hands back an hour on the first Sunday in November.

But federal approval would also be required.

Changing the clock twice a year came about as a way to save energy during World War I and World War II, but Chu said a 2008 study by the National Bureau of Economics disputed whether the amount saved was substantial.

—Los Angeles Times

Trump plan to expand Gulf drilling ignores impacts on wildlife, lawsuit claims

MIAMI — A handful of environmental groups sued the Trump administration Thursday for failing to protect whales, sea turtles and other marine life in the Gulf of Mexico even as it pushes to expand drilling amid safety cutbacks.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Tampa, Earthjustice claimed the administration has yet to complete a long overdue study of hazards to wildlife from drilling following the 2010 explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The explosion, which left 11 workers dead, dumped at least 3 million barrels of oil into the Gulf, killing baby dolphins, causing heart problems in mahi mahi and leaving a trail of damage to marine life, from plankton to shrimp to oysters, that scientists are still trying to understand.

“You’ve got whales and sea turtles that not only have to contend with the everyday operations of drilling, but they have to rebuild their populations,” said Earthjustice attorney Chris Eaton.

Following the spill, the Obama administration agreed to take another look at impacts from drilling. When it failed to complete a study by 2013, environmentalists sued. Wildlife officials agreed to complete it by 2015. It was never done.

A new assessment is even more critical now following Trump’s move to undo Obama drilling bans and aggressively expand efforts, Eaton said. Earlier this year, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced plans to quadruple drilling in U.S. water, including Florida’s Atlantic coast and in the eastern Gulf, where drilling was banned in 1988. Zinke quickly withdrew the plan after meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott in what critics called an election-year stunt.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the Gulf Restoration Network, asks the court to order the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete a new study in three months. The study would likely lead to new protections for endangered species given the breadth of the 2010 spill, Earthjustice said.

—Miami Herald

Netanyahu’s wife charged with misuse of public funds for meals

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife has been charged with allegedly misusing public funds to order meals from outside the prime minister’s residence.

Sara Netanyahu has been charged with using nearly $100,000 of state money to cover the unauthorized expenses between September 2010 and March 2013. She has denied any wrongdoing, and the prime minister has said the family is the victim of a political witch hunt by leftists and the media.

Benjamin Netanyahu is also facing potential charges as the attorney general weighs whether to accept police recommendations to indict him in two corruption cases. The Israeli leader is being investigated in connection with expensive gifts he and his wife received from businessmen including Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, and on suspicions he spoke with a newspaper publisher about passing legislation in exchange for favorable coverage, a plan that never came to fruition.

—Bloomberg News