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T-Mobile debuts free robocall-fighting service

T-Mobile announced Thursday it will offer ScamShield, a free scam-blocking service to all T-Mobile, Metro and Sprint customers.

Why it matters: Robocalls remain the scourge of the industry, with billions of unwanted calls pummeling customers last year.


"This industry shouldn’t be profiting from this phenomenon," CEO Mike Sievert said on a call with reporters on Thursday, saying that Verizon charges many customers $7.99 per month for spam call protection.

T-Mobile's moves are a mix of industry-wide efforts as well as things it is doing on its own, including

  • Using network patterns to identify spam calls and allowing users to get a warning or, if they choose, block such calls from ringing.
  • Offering customers a free second phone number they can give out to businesses and save their main number for their close friends. (or vice versa).
  • Allowing customers to change their number if they are getting too many spam calls.
  • Free ID monitoring and alerts from McAfee

"This is no easy task, but we're making real headway," network head Neville Ray said on the call.

Meanwhile: Sievert and Ray said the company is ahead of schedule on its 5G rollout, including turning on the mid-band spectrum it acquired as part of its Sprint deal.

T-Mobile already uses low-band spectrum to cover much of the country with 5G service, but the mid-band spectrum allows for faster speeds than are possible with low-band 5G.

Fauci says if people won't wear masks, maybe it should be mandated

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

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Harris to Black voters: Casting a ballot is about honoring your ancestors

Sen. Kamala Harris appealed to Black voters in Georgia on Friday, urging them to "honor the ancestors" by casting ballots, and again calling President Trump a "racist."

Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

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U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began

The U.S. confirmed at least 83,010 coronavirus cases on Friday, the country's highest daily total since the pandemic started, according to data from COVID tracking project.

By the numbers: Friday's total surpassed the previous daily case record set on July 17 when 76,842 cases were recorded.

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Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months

President Trump has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in “several months,” NIAID director Anthony Fauci told MSNBC on Friday.

Why it matters: At the beginning of the pandemic, the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, met every day, but in the "last several weeks," members have held virtual meetings once a week, Fauci said, even as the number of new cases continues to surge in the country.

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Universal mask use could save 130,000 lives in U.S.

Nearly 130,000 fewer people will die of COVID-19 this winter if 95% of Americans wear face masks in public, according to research published Friday.

Why it matters: “Increasing mask use is one of the best strategies that we have right now to delay the imposition of social distancing mandates," Dr. Christopher Murray of the University of Washington told the N.Y. Times.

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Israel and Sudan begin normalization process after call with Trump

Sudan and Israel announced today that they will “end the state of belligerence” between them and start the process of normalizing ties.

Driving the news: The announcement came after a phone call hosted by President Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and the head of Sudan's governing council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

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We're all guinea pigs for Tesla's latest self-driving tech

Tesla is beta-testing its latest self-driving technology with a small group of early adopters, a move that alarms experts and makes every road user — including other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists — unwitting subjects in its ongoing safety experiment.

Why it matters: Tesla hailed the limited rollout of its "full self-driving" beta software as a key milestone, but the warnings on the car's touchscreen underscore the risk in using its own customers — rather than trained safety drivers — to validate the technology.

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Trump removes Sudan from state sponsors of terrorism list

President Trump signed Friday an order to remove Sudan from the State Department’s state sponsors of terrorism list, senior U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: Trump’s signature paves the way for the U.S. and Sudan to move forward on a larger deal — which will also include a Sudanese announcement on normalizing its relations with Israel.

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