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April 21, 2017

More than 90,000 people are without power in San Francisco, resulting in citywide closures of schools, businesses, and public transportation, SF Gate reports. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is unsure if a fire at a substation is the cause, or if the substation instead caught fire due to the outage.

The San Francisco Fire Department is responding to over 100 calls, including 20 reports of people stuck in elevators. Cable cars, electric buses, and BART are down, or operating sporadically, and the streets are jammed as traffic lights are out at intersections.

Perhaps the most terrifying detail of all is that people are without WiFi or functioning espresso machines at coffee shops. SF Gate offers a look at the chaos:

Aaron Trzesniewski was in a cable car near Sutter and Powell streets when the electricity cut out.

"It's huge," Trzesniewski said. "All the retailers are down, all the businesses, Starbucks, everybody."

All around Union Square, the lights were out in the boutiques and restaurants, and rows of shuttered businesses extended into the Tenderloin and Chinatown. Workers stood outside, waiting, or in some cases they stood inside, with the doors closed.

A lot of people just milled about, drinking coffee or staring at their phones. [SF Gate]

PG&E officials say they hope to have power restored by 1 p.m. PT.

Manhattan also suffered power outages that stranded subway commuters Friday morning, although the two blackouts do not immediately appear to be connected and are instead suspected to be a result of the cities' ancient infrastructure. Jeva Lange

1:13 p.m. ET

A van jumped the curb and plowed into a crowd in the center of Barcelona on Thursday. One person was reported dead and 32 were reported injured, 10 seriously. Police have confirmed that the incident was a terrorist attack.

The driver of the van reportedly fled on foot after plowing into pedestrians in the city's historic Las Ramblas district, a popular tourist destination. Reuters reported that "two armed men" entered a restaurant after the van crash. Becca Stanek

This is a breaking news story and has been updated throughout.

12:59 p.m. ET

President Trump might not be very popular nationwide, but most Republicans believe he is pulling the party in the right direction, a new Quinnipiac University poll has found. While just 39 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing in office right now, Quinnipiac found that 81 percent of Republicans approve of Trump and 82 percent believe he is steering the party in the "right direction."

Quinnipiac's poll ran from August 9-15, reaching 1,361 voters on landlines and cellphones. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percent, and the full results can be read here. Jeva Lange

12:33 p.m. ET
Sarah Rice/Getty Images

Maine's Republican governor said Thursday that removing Confederate monuments is "just like going to New York City right now and [taking] down the monument of those who perished in 9/11," the Portland Press Herald reports.

Gov. Paul LePage told the hosts of WGAN that while he condemns the KKK and white supremacist groups, people calling for the removal of statues of Robert E. Lee "don't even know the history of this country and they are trying to take monuments down."

"I think what they are standing for is equally as bad [as the KKK], they are trying to erase history," LePage told WGAN. "How can future generations learn if we are going to erase history? That's disgusting."

President Trump has also spoken out against removing Confederate monuments, tweeting Thursday: "You can't change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!" Jeva Lange

12:31 p.m. ET

On Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement urging the prompt removal of Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol. As the debate over the removal of Confederate monuments rages across the nation, Pelosi declared there is "no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy" in the Capitol, nor in "places of honor across the country." "The halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy. The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans," Pelosi said.

She called on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to join Democrats in removing the "reprehensible" statues "if Republicans are serious about rejecting white supremacy." Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.) has already said he plans to introduce legislation proposing the removal of the monuments.

Politico reported there are 10 statues in the Capitol's National Statuary "honoring individuals who served in the Confederate army or government." There are also statutes of individuals who were "supporters of slavery or the Confederacy."

Read Pelosi's full statement below. Becca Stanek

11:11 a.m. ET

President Trump argued Thursday in favor of the beauty of parks with Confederate monuments (needless to say, a questionable perspective), tweeting that "you can't change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!"

Despite Trump's claims that "you can't change history," a short trip down memory lane lands us at that one time Trump erected a monument at his golf course in honor of a completely made up Civil War battle:

Even though there's a monument and plaque commemorating "casualties [that] were so great the water would turn red and thus became known as 'The River of Blood'" [at Trump's National Golf Club on Lowes Island in Sterling, Virginia], all the local historians reached by The New York Times denied anything of the sort ever happened in the area.

"No. Uh-uh. No way. Nothing like that ever happened there," Richard Gillespie, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, the region's historical preservation group, said. Alana Blumenthal, who curates the Loudoun Museum in nearby Leesburg, agreed there had never been a battle at or near the site, as did another expert who chose not to be named.

When told about the historians' denial of the so-called River of Blood massacre, Trump replied, "How would they know that? Were they there?" [The Week]

Trump told the Times that "if people are crossing the river, and you happen to be in a civil war, I would say that people were shot — a lot of them," which unfortunately isn't how history works. Read the full story at The New York Times, and check out the inscription on Trump's statue below. Jeva Lange

11:07 a.m. ET

When 84-year-old Mary Grams lost her engagement ring while she was pulling a weed on her Alberta farm in 2004, she never expected to find it. But then, 13 years later, she found it in the most unexpected of places: wrapped around a carrot plucked from her garden.

Grams' daughter-in-law Colleen Daley dug it up while she was digging carrots for dinner. Daley said she immediately knew it must belong to "to either grandma or my mother-in-law because no other women have lived on that farm" that's been in the family for 105 years.

Grams had tried to keep her lost ring a secret over the years, even going so far as to buy a similar ring in the hopes her husband wouldn't notice (he didn't). But Grams certainly felt the loss, as she'd been wearing the ring since her husband proposed to her in 1951.

Now, five years after her husband's death, she finally has her engagement ring back. "It fit," Grams said. "After that many years it fits." Becca Stanek

10:31 a.m. ET

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) isn't buying chief strategist Stephen Bannon's excuse for the interview he gave Tuesday, in which he dished on his beef with colleagues, contradicted President Trump's stance on North Korea, and claimed that Trump officials are so nervous about changing trade policy they're "wetting themselves." The media-savvy former Breitbart editor has claimed that he thought the interview with progressive publication, The American Prospect, was off the record.

"Oh, baloney. Steve Bannon is a professional," Gingrich said in a Thursday appearance on Fox & Friends, struggling to figure out what Bannon was trying to accomplish with this interview. "Maybe, if you're senior White House adviser, it's useful not to screw it up. ... If you're senior White House adviser, you make your argument in the Oval Office, you make your argument in the chief of staff's office," Gingrich said.

In a final zinger, Gingrich brought up former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who went rogue in an interview with The New Yorker by offering some lewd remarks about Bannon. “This reminds me of Scaramucci," Gingrich said of Bannon's inteview. "You don't go off and do this stuff."

Bannon's interviewer at The American Prospect, Robert Kuttner, said that Bannon never asked for their conversation to be off the record. Watch Gingrich's commentary below, starting around the 6:12 mark, and read Bannon's "accidentally" on the record interview at The American Prospect. Becca Stanek

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