(CNN)–It's early, and State of the Union is bringing you the best of the morning headlines to go with your cup of coffee.
On our radar this morning: We bring you the latest on the possibility of a nuclear meltdown in Japan, as well as the budget debate on Capitol Hill.
Check out what we're reading, and make sure to watch the show at 9am/12PM ET, with Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., Ichiro Fujisaki.
Death toll, nuclear meltdown fears rise in Japan
Japanese Scramble to Avert Meltdowns as Nuclear Crisis Deepens After Quake
How to Stop a Nuclear Meltdown
Scientists: Japan Fallout Won't Rival Chernobyl's
Even if the Japanese nuclear plant damaged in the earthquake goes into full meltdown, it is unlikely to cause environmental fallout anything on the scale seen after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, scientists said.
"As long as there's no meltdown of the fuel rods, you're in good shape," said Kirby Kemper, a nuclear physicist at Florida State University. But if pressure from gases in the nuclear core builds up, "a crack could appear in the containment vessel and release radiation," he said.
Crisis Underscores Fears about Safety of Nuclear Energy
It was not until Sunday that the increasingly dangerous nature of the problems at Daiichi became clear. But even on Saturday, with Reactor No. 1 there having suffered a radiation leak and an explosion, James M. Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said the nuclear industry would be shaken. While Japan may try to point to the safety of its newer facilities, concerns may run too deep, he said. Decades ago, after the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island accidents, Mr. Acton said, the nuclear industry tried to argue that newer reactors incorporated much better safety features. “That made very little difference to the public,” he said.
Japan begins grim relief mission with towns flooded, thousands reported missing
"Even the medical relief is going to be a longtime battle," said Toshikazu Yamamoto, a Japanese Red Cross official in charge of disaster relief. "This earthquake is much larger than the Kobe earthquake [in 1995]. And Kobe took 10, 15 years to recover, and it actually hasn't recovered completely even now. Recovery from this earthquake is going to take a long, long time."
Japan faces soaring number of feared dead
Japan Plans Spending Package as Quake Slams World's Most Indebted Economy
GOP freshmen uneasy about latest stopgap bill, lawmaker says
Freshmen Republicans in the House are increasingly worried that party leaders will back down on spending cuts and might oppose the latest bill to avoid a government shutdown, one lawmaker says.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) said Saturday he will oppose a three-week continuing resolution from House Republicans to fund the government and signaled other freshmen may follow suit.
Fact Checker on Dems meeting GOP halfway on budget
The Democrats' posturing that they have met Republicans "halfway" on budget cuts does them no credit. Either they should take a stand and say they won't accept further cuts, or they should begin a real negotiation that leads to a higher number. Obama signaled he was willing to deal when he said in his radio address he was "prepared to do more." But the persistent claims of going "halfway" when in fact Democrats have done little to engage Republicans on the issue will only hurt their credibility in the long run.
Thanks for reading!
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