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Bernie Sanders Goes Big in Boston Calling for a 'Political Revolution'

Politics

Sen. Bernie Sanders drew overflowing crowds to his Boston, Massachusetts presidential campaign rally Saturday night as he called for political revolution, racial justice and gun law reform, among other progressive issues.

Tens of thousands of supporters turned out at the Boston Convention Center to see Sanders speak—skyrocketing numbers that are now typical for the senator from Vermont whose run at the White House for 2016 once seemed like a long shot.

According to campaign staffers, an additional 4,000 people joined an overflow room at the convention center after the main venue filled to its 25,000-person capacity, while others braved the cold to watch his speech outside on a Jumbotron. One attendee tweeted that at least 32,000 people had shown up to #FeelTheBern:

"Welcome to the political revolution," Sanders told the cheering audience.

He then launched into a critique of the U.S. justice system, which he described as "broken and ... in need of deep reform." He slammed "an institutional racism that allows and continues to allow unarmed African Americans to be killed by police," referring to a recent spate of high-profile killings that galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement. He echoed many of that campaign's demands, including accountability for officers and an overhaul of the prison-industrial complex.

"Our job is to make police departments look like the communities they serve," Sanders said. "Our job is to make sure non-violent offenders do not get locked up, our job is to rethink the war on drugs, our job is to demilitarize police departments, our job is to end mandatory minimum sentences."

And "when a police officer breaks the law that officer must be held accountable," he said.

Sanders also spoke about Thursday's mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, in which nine people were killed, and linked it to the attack in June on Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, when a white gunman killed nine black parishioners.

"All of us are disgusted, frustrated, bewildered in seeing every month, every two months, a sick individual walk into a school, walk into a church, take out a gun and start killing people," Sanders said. "Our hearts go out to the people of Oregon for what they have experienced in the last few days."

He said it was time for the U.S. to close the legal loopholes which allow unlicensed gun sellers to deal without performing background checks on clients, "end the sale and distribution of semi-automatic weapons whose only goal is to kill people," and start "a revolution in terms of mental health in this country."

"Maybe if we do all of these things we can lessen the likelihood of these horrendous disasters," Sanders said.

He also paid homage to Massachusetts native and fellow progressive icon Sen. Elizabeth Warren, remarking, "As your Senator Elizabeth Warren reminds us, this is a rigged economy. Heads they win, tails you lose."

What's needed now is renewed investment in infrastructure, free public tuition, and a $15 minimum wage, he said.

"Wages in this country are just too damn low," he said.

Sanders' big night in Boston follows other recent advances, including new polls that show him surpassing Hillary Clinton, his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, in key battleground states. And after publicly eschewing big money and Super PACs at the start of his campaign, Sanders announced on Thursday that he had raised at least $26 million from a collective 650,000 donors.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.

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