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New Zealand volcano, Russian sports banned over doping, and why the GOP is sticking with Trump: The Morning Rundown

The sudden volcanic eruption on an island open to tourists killed at least five, more are still missing.
Tourists take pictures of the volcanic eruption on White Island from a boat shuttling people to safety.
Tourists take pictures of the volcanic eruption on White Island from a boat shuttling people to safety.Michael Schade / Twitter

Good morning, NBC News readers.

A sudden volcanic eruption in New Zealand, Russia has been banned from international sports for the next four years and why the GOP is standing by their man.

Here's what we're watching this Monday morning.

'A burst of dark steam': At least 5 killed after volcanic eruption off New Zealand

A volcano open to tour groups unexpectedly erupted off the coast of New Zealand on Monday, killing at least five people, authorities said.

Officials were unsure of the exact number of people who were missing or injured, but about 50 people were believed to have been in the area when the volcano erupted.

A spokesman for Royal Caribbean Cruises told NBC News that multiple guests aboard one of its ships had been touring the island, which in quieter times is a tourist attraction popular with birdwatchers.

"White Island had no clouds above it, but there was a burst of dark steam coming out of it," Dan Harvey, a commercial fisherman who was out at sea at the time of the eruption, told Radio New Zealand. "It just looked like what you see of a nuclear bomb going off."

Pensacola shooting victims were three aspiring aviators

The FBI said that it is conducting a terrorism investigation into the fatal shooting of three at a Pensacola, Florida, naval base on Friday.

Authorities said their main goal is to determine whether the suspect, a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force who was in a training program at Naval Air Station Pensacola, acted alone or whether he was part of a "larger network."

A sheriff’s deputy killed the 21-year-old suspect after he opened fire in a classroom on the base.

The shooters' victims were aspiring aviators, students from Georgia, Alabama and Florida who’d gone to Naval Air Station Pensacola to earn their wings.

"He died a hero and we are beyond proud, but there is a hole in our hearts that can never be filled," one of the victims' relatives said.

Video: Pensacola naval base shooting presumed to be terrorism, FBI says

The GOP wall: Here's why Republicans won't walk away from Trump

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that his panel will "presumably" present articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump this week.

Nadler said that congressional leaders haven't finalized many of the key details of what may be included in any impeachment articles, but he framed impeaching the president as an imperative.

Meantime, the Republicans are standing by their man.

In an analysis piece, NBC News’ Alex Seitz-Wald looks at why the GOP are sticking with Trump.

Hint: Politics and the media have dramatically changed since the time a group of GOP lawmakers went to the White House to tell President Richard Nixon he was finished.

Toxic rhetoric and violent threats: U.K. election revives dark past in Northern Ireland

In England, Scotland and Wales, the nationwide election this Thursday will decide whether Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson can consolidate power and drive through his hard-line Brexit deal.

In Northern Ireland, a unique corner of the U.K., the vote has revived altogether more ancient and existential demons.

Deirdre Heenan, a professor at Ulster University, called the upcoming election "one of the most toxic, divisive elections" the region has seen in recent years.

"It would be difficult to overestimate its importance," she said. "The stakes are so high in terms of peace, in terms of our stability and in terms of our economic future."

Free Derry corner in the Catholic Bogside area of Derry.Charles McQuillan / for NBC News

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THINK about it

Trump is no Abraham Lincoln. The idea that some Republican voters think he is should mortify the party, political commentator Ashley Pratte writes in an opinion piece.


If you've ever dreaded heading back to work on a Monday morning, read this for some suggestions on how to make the transition from weekend to workday a little easier.

Quote of the day

"Nobody wants to revert back...I sure as hell don't want my kids experiencing what I did growing up."

Natasha Frame, 29, a nursing assistant who lives in Northern Ireland with her two young children.

One fun thing

Joe DiMartino started "Lights for Life," his elaborate Christmas display on Staten Island, to honor his wife, who was killed on September 11, 2001.

The decorations bring joy to the local community and have raised thousands of dollars for the Children's Cancer Center at Staten Island University.

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Thanks, Petra