Reuters US Domestic News Summary

Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.

U.S. officials defend new citizenship rules for some military families

U.S. immigration officials on Thursday defended a new policy that ends automatic citizenship for some children born to U.S. citizens stationed abroad as government employees or members of the U.S. military, saying it would only affect a "handful" of families every year. "It bears repeating that this affects a very small population of individuals and they have another means of obtaining citizenship for their children," a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) official said in a call with reporters, adding that the new pathway "just requires different paperwork."

Hurricane Dorian gains might as it takes aim at Florida

Hurricane Dorian churned in the Atlantic, picking up speed early on Thursday, fueled by warm waters as it took aim at the U.S. coast and threatened to become a dangerous category 3 storm. Dorian had sideswiped the Caribbean without doing major damage but Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Wednesday and asked east coast Floridians load up with at least 7 days worth of supplies, such as food and water.

Trump promises ethanol-related 'giant package' to please farmers

President Donald Trump said on Thursday his administration is planning a "giant package" related to ethanol that would please U.S. farmers angry that many more oil refiners have been freed from obligations to use the corn-based fuel. Clashes between farmers and the oil industry over biofuel policy have posed a challenge for Trump, who is counting on the support of both constituencies in next year's presidential election.

Alabama governor apologizes over blackface episode from student days

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey acknowledged on Thursday she wore blackface during a college skit in the 1960s and she apologized for the episode, becoming the latest U.S. politician to be embarrassed by a racially-charged incident from decades ago. Ivey, a Republican, made her apology after an audio tape emerged of a 1960s radio interview she and her then fiance, Ben LaRavia, gave when she was a student at Auburn University in Alabama. In the interview, LaRavia described a recent comedy sketch they had been in.

Democrats' Medicare for All must consider union-won plans: AFL-CIO

Democratic White House hopefuls should ensure their Medicare for All proposals honor union-negotiated private insurance, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, head of the largest federation of U.S. labor unions, said on Thursday. How to best extend health coverage to millions of uninsured or under-insured Americans has been one of the early issues defining the Democratic nominating contest to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November 2020.

Trump administration barring tours of migrant detention centers, Democrats say

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday said the Trump administration is blocking investigators from touring immigrant detention facilities nationwide after recent visits revealed what they called “serious ongoing problems” concerning how detainees are being treated. Representative Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said committee staff were barred from visiting 11 U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities days after previous inspections found conditions that threatened the health and safety of the adult and child migrants being held, writing in a letter to Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.

As Dorian looms, Florida's Space Coast braces for possible unprecedented impact

As Hurricane Dorian advances on a course likely to slam the Florida peninsula within days, U.S. space agencies and aerospace companies are sheltering millions of dollars in hardware and assets along the Space Coast. Dorian, expected to strengthen in the Atlantic to a Category 4 storm with winds topping 130 miles per hour (209 kilometers per hour), could churn across dozens of launchpads owned by NASA, the U.S. Air Force and companies such as Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin starting around Monday.

Case against Jeffrey Epstein dismissed following his death

A federal judge on Thursday formally dismissed the criminal sex trafficking case against Jeffrey Epstein, a move that was expected following the financier's death in jail earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman had said at a hearing on Tuesday that he was legally bound to dismiss the case. Prosecutors said at that hearing that an investigation into Epstein's alleged crimes would continue, and that the dismissal would not prevent them from charging possible co-conspirators in the future.

Ohio man accused of planning to attack Jewish center faces federal charge

A self-described white nationalist who owned assault-style weapons and World War Two Nazi memorabilia has been charged in federal court with making threats to attack an Ohio Jewish community center, for which he already faces state charges, authorities said. James Reardon, 20, whose case is one of many thwarted potential mass shootings reported by U.S. law enforcement in recent weeks, faces one count of transmitting threatening communications via interstate commerce, federal prosecutors said as his indictment was unsealed on Thursday.

As fall begins in Alaska, wildfires linked to warming rage on

Leaves in Alaska are changing color and the rainy season is supposed to begin, but wildfires are raging on in an unusually long and fierce fire season that scientists say is linked to the far north's long-term climate warmup. Usually, Alaska wildfires wind down by late July, but this week, the state Department of Natural Resources extended the official fire season to Sept. 30. Last week, Governor Mike Dunleavy declared state emergencies for fires burning north and south of Anchorage.