September 25, 2019

Today's really not the best day for someone at the White House to be extremely bad at email.

In the aftermath of the memorandum showing President Trump pushing for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, the White House was quick to shoot off an email of talking points in hopes of containing the damage.

The only problem? The email, featuring talking points allies were to use to combat arguments from House Democrats, was emailed to ... House Democrats. That includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), reports HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery.

As screenshots of the entire pushback strategy — which includes arguing that Trump was simply "suggesting that allegations of an abuse of office" by Biden "merit looking into" — circulated on Twitter, the White House apparently attempted to "recall" the email, which should surely work like a charm. Referencing this bizarre email snafu, a source told The Washington Post's Jacqueline Alemany, "It really is stupid Watergate." Brendan Morrow

2:06 p.m.

Poor unfortunate souls who are stuck in quarantine will want to be prepared for The Disney Family Singalong, a one-hour special event coming to ABC. Ryan Seacrest will host the medley, Deadline reports, with celebrities like Christina Aguilera, Kristin Chenoweth, Luke Evans, and Michael Bublé set to go from zero to hero with at-home performances of their favorite Disney tunes.

You'll only need the bare necessities to follow along in your own living room, since the Singalong is going to include "an animated character to guide the on-screen lyrics." Expect to hear all the songs you love from movies like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Frozen, High School Musical, Moana, and more. You can even stay one jump ahead and start studying up now — off to work you go!

Otherwise, a guy like you (or a friend like me) can catch the event on April 16 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Jeva Lange

2:05 p.m.

President Trump has officially abandoned his grand reopening plan for the U.S.

As the COVID-19 pandemic was first spiking in the U.S. a few weeks ago, Trump seemed firm on having the U.S. "open" again come Easter. Pretty much every expert out there warned Easter was far too soon to end social distancing in the U.S., but Trump remained firm on his self-proposed miracle — until in his official Easter message on Friday, where he made no mention of reopening the U.S. or really of the coronavirus at all.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence stood by in the White House on Friday as Bishop Harry Jackson delivered a holiday blessing, and briefly relayed a message of his own. Trump thanked "everyone in our country and beyond," and said "184 countries ... are fighting this enemy and we pray for them all," not actually naming what he was thanking them for or what that enemy was.

ABC News did ask Trump whether he'd tell churches to remain closed through the holiday, but that reporter was told there would be no questions until the White House's daily coronavirus briefing. A little guidance might've been helpful seeing as some churches are bucking social distancing calls, and in some states, they've been exempted from coronavirus regulations altogether. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:11 p.m.

Japanese director Nobuhiko Obayashi has died at the age of 82 after a battle with terminal lung cancer, the Japanese press reported Friday. Obayashi is best known for his 1977 cult horror film House, or Hausu, which has been described as "one of the most 'terrible' films ever made" and "le cinéma du WTF?!" Despite the dreadful reviews from critics, though, House was a hit and a box office success in Japan, and it continues to be shown frequently on the American midnight movie circuit.

Yet Obayashi is more than just House. He made over 40 movies during the course of his life, including most recently Labyrinth of Cinema in 2019, which, like much of his work, was preoccupied with the horrors of war. "Utopian as it may seem, [Obayashi] is determined to continue the trail of peace Kurosawa has set out on and pass it on to the next batch of directors," Japan Times wrote in 2017.

Obayashi firmly believed in the power of cinema. "Movies are not weak," he told The Associated Press last October. "Movies express freedom." Jeva Lange

12:40 p.m.

As COVID-19 spreads throughout the city, New York has seen ridership on its MTA system drop by more than 90 percent. But trains and buses are still running, and that's led to 50 MTA workers contracting and dying from the new coronavirus so far, MTA Chairman Pat Foye said Friday.

So far, nearly 1,900 MTA workers have tested positive for the new coronavirus, and the number of quarantined workers recently hit a peak of 6,000. A total of 50 MTA employees have died of the disease; they're dying at a much higher rate than the rest of the city. Most of those workers who'd died had worked on the city's buses and subways.

To combat disease spread, the MTA is now taking the temperature of everyone who reports to work and sending those with a fever back home. About 1,800 MTA workers who'd self-quarantined after potential exposure to the virus have since returned to work, Foye added. But staffing shortages have still caused over 800 subway delays and led to 40 percent of trips being canceled in a single day, per The New York Times.

Ridership is dramatically down across the entire MTA system, Foye also said. Subway ridership has fallen 93 percent since the coronavirus crisis began, Long Island Railroad traffic has plunged 97 percent, and Metro-North commuter rail has seen ridership drop 95 percent. That resulting deep dive in revenue will surely be a problem for the aging transit system that was struggling to stay afloat even before a global pandemic hit. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:53 a.m.

The recorded global death toll for COVID-19 neared 100,000 on Friday afternoon, with confirmed worldwide cases at more than 1.6 million. The numbers reflect an alarming jump since April 2, a little more than a week ago, when global deaths were still around 50,000, NPR reports.

Italy has the highest number of deaths of any country in the world, with over 18,000, followed by the United States, which has more than 16,500, and Spain, with more than 15,800. New York remains the center of the U.S. outbreak, and on Friday Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the state had recorded its highest single-day death toll yet, at 779. "That is so shocking and painful and breathtaking, I don't even have the words for it," he said. Jeva Lange

11:03 a.m.

A federal disaster loan program offering up to $2 million in relief is now capping out at $15,000 — and is leaving some borrowers wondering if they'll even get that.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, an offshoot of the Small Business Administration's emergency funds system, has faced an unprecedented number of requests amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and is having trouble keeping up and following through with promised loan amounts, The New York Times reports.

Several applicants reportedly said SBA representatives told them funding for the program was running out. Deb Wood-Schade, a chiropractic wellness business owner, told the Times she had been approved for a nearly $25,000 loan, but was given documents on Wednesday telling her the loan had been cut to less than a third of that amount.

As part of the $2 trillion relief bill signed by President Trump last month, applicants to the program were also supposed to be made eligible for a $10,000 advance in the form of a grant that would not have to be repaid, and the money was reportedly supposed to be distributed within three days of applying. According to the Times, that money has yet to be dispensed.

"I'm afraid I won't see a penny," Virginia Warnken Kelsey, an opera singer who applied on March 29, told the Times.

The sudden onslaught of requests caused by the virus has handed the SBA a "historic influx of loan applications," The Washington Post reports, leading to a major applicant backlog. The $10 billion in federal funding provided by the CARES act would cover the $10,000 advances of around one million businesses. But in three days, the program reportedly received more than three million applicants.

Lawmakers in Washington are still negotiating over a bill that would inject more money to small businesses, with Democrats blocking the latest attempt by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and demanding double the amount. Marianne Dodson

10:50 a.m.

Guess who's back up in the studio with his homies? Usher, Lil Jon, and Ludacris have reunited for the first time since the trio's 2004 hit "Yeah!" in order to bring us the not-so-subtly-named slow jam, "SexBeat." As Entertainment Weekly tactfully puts it, the new track "explores finding satisfaction in the bedroom." In it, the group improves on stale lyrics like "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" with creative, original ones like "sex-sex-sex-sex-sex-sex."

Notably, it's been a "pretty busy week" for Usher, Vulture explains, seeing as the singer spent "the better part of Thursday R&Beefing with Jim Carrey's friend the Weeknd over whether or not he copied the Weeknd's signature style on his 2012 song 'Climax.' While truly everyone got involved in the feud, Usher must have been sitting pretty all day knowing that he was getting the public’s attention before dropping a new song amid the controversy."

You can listen to "SexBeat" below. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads