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Obama Mocks GOP Presidential Candidates as Climate Deniers and Debate Whiners

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President Obama is still clearly feeling some of that feistiness he talked about experiencing after his vacation in August when he ended up launching a feud with the Koch brothers after accusing them and other opponents of "standing in the way of progress." On Monday night, as part of a Democratic National Committee fundraiser, President Obama had his audience cracking up as he took dig after dig at the Republican presidential candidates.

He said they seem to "occupy a different reality" in which the country has been in ruins since he was elected seven years ago. "According to them, everything was really good in 2008, when we were going through the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes," Obama said. "This, apparently, was the golden age that I messed up."

And the candidates' views on climate change? Obama couldn't hold back there either. He compared it to 99 out of 100 doctors telling someone they have diabetes and having that person brush it off as "a conspiracy." It's as if "all 99 of those doctors got together—with Obama—to try to prevent me from having bacon and doughnuts," Obama said. "It'd be funny—except this is about climate change."

He reminded the audience of when, earlier this year, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) stood on the floor of the Senate with a snowball to question global warming. His response to that episode: "It's cray!"

To cap off his roast, Obama mocked Donald Trump and others who have criticized the President for his dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "And then it turns out they can't handle a bunch of CNBC moderators," Obama quipped, ridiculing the candidates' objections over last week's GOP debate. "If you can't handle those guys, I don't think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you."

The President has made climate change a major focal point of his remaining time in office. His Clean Power Plan, which requires states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, was formally published a few weeks ago. Two dozen states have already filed suit.

And in August, the President launched a whirlwind 11-day climate tour that, he vowed, was a prelude to a 100-day long marathon leading up to COP21, the Paris climate talks. During his climate tour, Obama saw the booming solar industry in Nevada, the recovery efforts in New Orleans as the city marked its 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and finally, the first-hand effects of climate change in Alaska.

You can watch the full speech here:

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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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