Dec 19, 2019

Bill to crack down on robocalls passes Senate

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congress on Thursday approved legislation aimed at deterring the flood of robocalls hitting consumers' phones, sending the bill to the president's desk.

Driving the news: The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act unanimously cleared the Senate after the House approved it earlier this month.

Details: The bill requires carriers to verify that calls are legitimate before they reach consumers; ensures providers make robocall-blocking services available for free; and bolsters the federal government's ability to impose and collect fines for illegal calls.

  • "I look forward to the president's signature on this TRACED Act in the near future, and hope, as this bill gets implemented, that it will once again be safe to answer your phone in this country," Republican Sen. John Thune said in remarks on the Senate floor.

Go deeper: Robocallers face fight on many fronts

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Zipline drones deliver masks to hospitals; vaccines could be next

Zipline's drone drops medical supplies via parachute. Image courtesy of Zipline.

Zipline, a California drone company, has made its U.S. debut by delivering medical supplies to hospitals in North Carolina under a pilot program honed in Africa.

Why it matters: The effort, made possible by a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration to Novant Health, is the nation's longest-range drone delivery operation and could demonstrate how drones could be used in future pandemics, Zipline officials said.

NHL unveils 24-team playoff plan to return from coronavirus hiatus

Data: NHL; Table: Axios Visuals

The NHL unveiled its return-to-play plan on Tuesday, formally announcing that 24 of its 31 teams will return for a playoff tournament in two hub cities, if and when medically cleared.

Why it matters: Hockey is the first major North American sports league to sketch out its plans to return from a coronavirus-driven hiatus in such detail, and it's also the first one to officially pull the plug on its regular season, which will trigger ticket refunds.

Rising home sales show Americans are looking past the coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans are behaving very differently than they have in previous recessions — convinced that the coronavirus pandemic will soon pass, many continue to spend money as if nothing has changed.

Driving the news: The latest example of this trend is the Commerce Department's new home sales report, which showed home sales increased in April despite nationwide lockdowns that banned real estate agents in some states from even showing listed houses.