Reuters US Domestic News Summary

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Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.

Bernie Sanders proposes canceling $81 billion U.S. medical debt

U.S. presidential contender Bernie Sanders proposed a plan on Saturday to cancel $81 billion in existing past-due medical debt for Americans, but offered no details on how it would be financed. Sanders, an independent U.S. senator from Vermont, said in a statement that under his plan, the government would negotiate and pay off past-due medical bills that have been reported to credit agencies. The proposal, he said, would also repeal some elements of the 2005 Bankruptcy reform bill and allow other existing and future medical debt to be discharged.

After Dorian takes a turn, central Florida city breathes sigh of relief

After a frantic week in preparation for Hurricane Dorian, residents of Fort Pierce, Florida breathed a bit easier on Saturday when forecasters said the state's central Atlantic Coast may dodge a direct hit from the monster storm. The city, about 60 miles (96 km) north of West Palm Beach, has retained a small-town charm from its roots as a pioneer settlement in the 1800s. Locals shudder to remember the devastation of recent hurricanes that ripped the roofs of residences and flooded the downtown district.

Five killed, including gunman, 21 injured in West Texas shooting

A white male in his 30s who was known to police killed four people and wounded 21 others on Saturday in a gun rampage between the West Texas cities of Midland and Odessa that started with a traffic stop and ended when he was killed by officers, authorities said. The suspect hijacked a postal van and opened fire on police officers, motorists and shoppers on a busy Labor Day holiday weekend before being shot dead outside a multiplex cinema complex in Odessa, police said.

Dorian strengthens to powerful category 5 hurricane as it nears Bahamas

Hurricane Dorian intensified into a dangerous category 5 storm as it approached the Bahamas on Sunday, expected to pound the islands with up to two days of torrential rain, high waves and damaging winds before taking aim at the U.S. mainland. Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis begged residents of Abaco and Grand Bahamas to head for the main island to escape the "devastating, dangerous" storm.

Charleston mass shooting victims can sue U.S. over gun purchase: court

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Survivors of a 2015 mass shooting at a South Carolina church can sue the U.S. government over its alleged negligence in allowing Dylann Roof to buy the gun he used to kill nine African-Americans, a federal appeals court said on Friday. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the government was not immune from liability under either the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) or the Brady Act to prevent handgun violence.

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U.S. Justice Ginsburg says she is on her way to 'being very well'

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is on the court's liberal wing, told a packed audience Saturday that she was on her way to "being very well" after cancer treatment, and will be prepared when the court's next term begins in October. Ginsburg, 86, who was recently treated for pancreatic cancer, seemed sharp but accepted assistance coming on to the stage and spoke from a sitting position.

Democratic National Committee opposes Iowa, Nevada vote-by-phone plans

Democratic National Committee officials on Friday rejected plans to let people participate in Iowa's and Nevada's early caucuses by phone because of security concerns, drawing fire from at least one candidate for leaving voters out of the party's presidential contest. Each U.S. state party hosts nominating contests ahead of the 2020 election. Iowa's caucus is the first in the nation, on Feb. 3, and Nevada's follows later that month.

Convicted RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan stabbed in California prison: reports

Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian refugee found guilty of shooting U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy to death in 1968, was wounded in a stabbing at a California prison on Friday, according to media reports. Celebrity website TMZ, citing unnamed sources, was first to report that Sirhan, 75, had been stabbed.

As Dorian nears, Florida nursing homes face heat for lacking generators

One in five Florida nursing homes on Friday were counting on temporary generators to be delivered before Hurricane Dorian hits, according to the state agency charged with ensuring their residents will have air conditioning if power is knocked out. The state legislature passed the law requiring generators after a dozen people died in a sweltering nursing home after 2017's Hurricane Irma. State officials are also racing to check some 120 nursing homes and assisted living facilities where they are unsure if generators or contingency plans are in place, Governor Ron DeSantis told a news conference.

Tourists scatter as Hurricane Dorian hurls toward Bahamas

Tourists scrambled to leave the Bahamas on Friday as Hurricane Dorian approached its northwestern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, eager to take off before the international airport was to shut down at 10 p.m. The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in a statement at 8:30 p.m. EDT Friday (0030 GMT Saturday) that Dorian had strengthened into an "extremely dangerous" category 4 hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 km/h).

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