November 12, 2019

Conservatives' Supreme Court dominance is working exactly as they planned.

Right-wing leaders have spent decades filling federal courts with judges who would seemingly side with their constitutional philosophies, culminating in today's conservative majority Supreme Court. And now, that seems to be paying off, with publications speculating across the board that the Supreme Court will let President Trump end DACA based on Tuesday arguments.

Trump has repeatedly moved to end the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals program, which protects immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before they turned 16 from deportation and allows them to work legally. That decision was in question during oral arguments at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, and as The New York Times put it, "liberal justices probed the administration's justifications for ending the program" and "expressed skepticism" regarding the choice. The conservatives, on the other hand, "indicated that they would not second-guess the administration’s reasoning," the Times continued.

The Washington Post similarly mentioned the liberals seemed "highly skeptical" of the Trump administration's reasoning behind ending DACA. Justice Sonia Sotomayor discussed how Trump had once told Dreamers they were "safe under him," only to abruptly upend the program. Chief Justice John Roberts meanwhile said it was unlikely the government could actually deport DACA recipients en masse, and suggested their work authorizations were the bigger concern.

Regardless of their ideologies, Justice Neil Gorsuch said he spoke for the whole court in recognizing the "sympathetic facts" of the case, namely how DACA recipients had often lived in the U.S. since they were very young and had their entire lives here. Either way, a SCOTUS decision on DACA won't come for another few months. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:25 p.m.

Scammers take no days off — not even during a pandemic.

Consumers have filed over 15,000 complaints claiming nearly $12 million in losses from COVID-19 related scams, according to a Federal Trade Commission report.

More than half of the losses were reported in the first nine days of April, Business Insider reports, indicating a startling shift as the coronavirus crisis continues to spread around the globe. Should the current rate of fraudulent claims continue, Americans could reportedly lose more than $100 million by July.

The FTC's report shows California had the highest amount of claims with over 1,700, followed by Florida with 1,057. Travel and vacation scams were the most commonly reported type, followed by online shopping and text message scams.

As the new coronavirus has spread, complaints of price gouging have increased along with it, forcing retailers to come out against the practice and leading some state governments to take action.

It's anyone's guess when the pandemic will lighten up and the economy will reopen, and given the current state of panic and uncertainty surrounding the crisis, the next several months could be especially fertile ground for fraudsters. Marianne Dodson

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

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