JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news, Medicare is about to have one of the biggest overhauls in its 50 year history — changing how it pays doctors and other clinicians. Starting in 2019, they can choose to be compensated for quality of service, rather than quantity. If they do, they’ll be paid more. The new system rolled out in detail today is the product of bi-partisan legislation that passed Congress last year.
The flood tide from Hurricane Matthew kept pushing toward the North Carolina coast today, and the death toll count kept rising to at least 24. Swollen rivers have put parts of some towns ten feet under water. Today, Governor Pat McCrory visited the hard-hit city of Tarboro, and promised aid.
GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), North Carolina: The people don’t know how difficult a situation they’re about to enter when the water clears. I’d say 80 percent of this town is under water at this point in time. And we’ve got to prepare them for that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A judge also ordered 36 counties in North Carolina to extend voter registration due to flooding, after the state’s election board was sued by the Democratic Party. The deadline was also extended in and around Savannah, Georgia.
In Syria: fresh air strikes blasted the city of Aleppo, as rebels warned food and medicine is running low. The city’s rebel-held east is again under heavy bombardment, and President Bashar al-Assad is insisting that it be recaptured. He spoke to a Russian newspaper.
PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD, Syria: First of all, it has political gain, on the strategic level, political gain and national gain. It’s going to be the springboard as a big city, to move to another areas, to liberate another areas from the terrorists. You have to clean. You have to keep cleaning this area and to push the terrorists to go back to where they come from, or to kill them. There’s no other option.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All of this, as Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to meet with his Russian counterpart tomorrow, in a new effort to rekindle ceasefire talks.
Buddhist funeral rites have begun in Thailand, for the man who was the world’s longest- reigning monarch. Thousands gathered in Bangkok today for a royal procession and ceremonies to mourn the king, who died yesterday. He ruled for 70 years, enjoying enormous popularity and ties to the military regime. The body will be cremated in the months ahead.
Back in this country, the Transportation Department has banned all passengers and crews from bringing Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones on board planes. They issued the emergency order after reports of the device catching fire. Samsung had already discontinued the phones earlier this week.
United Airlines says it has resolved an overnight computer glitch that delayed thousands of passengers worldwide. Travelers from Paris to New York reported waiting up to several hours. It comes just two months after Delta Airlines canceled thousands of flights after a power outage affected its computers.
As of today, it’s a lot easier to bring Cuban cigars and rum into the U.S. The Obama administration says it’s relaxing limits on bringing those products back from Cuba. Now, returning travelers will be allowed up to 100 cigars, and several bottles of rum. It’s the latest loosening of the trade embargo on Cuba.
The U.S. Treasury Department reports running a $587 billion budget deficit this past fiscal year. That’s up 34 percent over the previous fiscal year, due to a slowdown in revenues and higher government spending.
And on Wall Street, stocks closed higher, led by gains in the technology and banking sectors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 39 points to close at 18,138. The NASDAQ rose nearly a point, and the S&P 500 added half a point. For the week, the Dow lost a fraction of a percent, and both the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 fell around 1 percent.
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