We're just 26 hours away from a government shutdown if the White House and Congress can't come up with a budget deal.
A meeting is underway right now. We'll have the latest on the showdown. Plus, a deadly airstrike in eastern Libya. And, here at home, the snake that escaped from New York's Bronx Zoo gets a name.
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/04/07/1larg.govt.shutdown.protests.t1larg.jpg caption="Protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Capitol on Thursday urging government spending cuts." width=300 height=169]
Another emergency budget meeting is underway tonight at the White House between President Obama, House Speaker John Boenher and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. If a deal isn't reached by midnight Friday there will be a partial government shutdown.
Many federal workers, and even U.S. troops, would stop getting paid. But get this: the members of Congress who got us into this mess would still get their paychecks.
In an op-ed in today's New York Times, Nicolas Kristof shares a Twitter message written by humorist Andy Borowitz that puts the pay outrage in perspective.
"That's like eliminating the fire department & sending checks to the arsonists," Borowitz wrote.
Do you agree? Share your thoughts below.
We'll have the Raw Politics tonight on AC360°. CNN's Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash will have the latest developments from Capitol Hill. We'll also talk with CNN's Dan Lothian at the White House and CNN Senior Political Analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen.
Another scare in Japan today, when a major 7.1 aftershock hit close to the same area as the March 11 magnitude 9.0 quake, triggering a tsunami warning. Fortunately, no tsunami hit. But there are reports of some injuries.
In eastern Libya, four opposition fighters were killed today in NATO airstrikes. That's according to an opposition general who called the deaths an "unfortunate setback." The general said the NATO aircraft fired on his forces between Ajdabiya and al-Brega.
Hours after the strikes, opposition fighters fled Ajdabiya, along with hundreds of civilians as pro-Gadhafi forces gained ground.
We'll talk about today's developments with CNN's Ben Wedeman in eastern Libya. CIA officer Robert Baer and Professor Fouad Ajami at John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies will also share their thoughts on the stalemate.
And, we’ll have Nic Robertson’s exclusive interview with Eman al-Obeidy at Gadhafi’s compound. In a face-to-face interview, she shares what she said she faced at the hands of Gadhafi’s forces. You’ll hear her accusations of rape and her message to the world.
Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET on CNN.
CNN Wire Staff
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) - Airstrikes killed four people in eastern Libya on Thursday, an opposition general said, and rebel fighters and civilians made a wild, panicky retreat from a major city.
Aircraft fired missiles on a rebel formation between al-Brega and Ajdabiya on the eastern Libyan battlefront, witnesses told CNN Thursday, an act that left the opposition wondering whether NATO aircraft conducted mistaken airstrikes on the forces they are trying to protect.
It's unclear whether Libyan aircraft or NATO fired the missiles, but there haven't been Libyan air force planes in the skies for some time because NATO aircraft have established a no-fly zone.
NATO said it's looking into the strikes but didn't say who carried it out. In a statement, it said that hostilities between al-Brega and Ajdabiya have "been fierce for several days. The situation is unclear and fluid with mechanized weapons traveling in all directions."
"What remains clear is that NATO will continue to uphold the U.N. mandate and strike forces that can potentially cause harm to the civilian population of Libya," NATO said.
Gen. Abdul Fattah Yunis, commander of rebel forces, told reporters of the "unfortunate setback."
The planes fired on 20 rebel tanks near al-Brega Thursday morning, Yunis said. Gadhafi's troops moved forward after the attack, causing the opposition to pull back. Several of the tanks were destroyed.
The general said he wanted some answers from NATO on whether it or Gadhafi planes made the strike. If the latter, Yunis said, NATO should have prevented that by enforcing the no-fly zone.
He added that the rebels had notified NATO of the tank movement and of their presence.
"There is no tension between us and NATO; this is a war situation and we understand that mistakes are made," Yunis said.
Two soldiers and two medics died in the airstrike. Fourteen people were injured and six are missing, Yunis said.
CNN Wire Staff
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) - Curt Weldon, the former U.S. congressman who intends to meet with Moammar Gadhafi and persuade him to step aside, told CNN on Thursday he hasn't yet but still hopes to sit down with Libya's defiant strongman.
If and when he does have the sit-down, Weldon said he plans "to reinforce the message of the Obama administration."
Later Thursday, Weldon told "The Situation Room" he will give the Libyan government until Friday to set up the meeting.
"It is time for us to resolve this conflict," said Weldon, a Republican who once represented a House district outside Philadelphia. Libya remains in a deadly stalemate as pro-Gadhafi forces battle rebel fighters demanding an end to Gadhafi's nearly 42-year-rule.
Weldon said he was underscoring the importance of an immediate cease-fire monitored by the United Nations on both sides, with the Libyan army pulling back in all the cities in distress and rebel forces stopping their forward movement to protect the people.
"I'm here only because I want to avoid war," Weldon told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "I don't want to see American soldiers killed, and I don't want to see more innocent Libyans killed."
Weldon said he and his small entourage have met with aides and other officials of the embattled regime this week, including the prime minister, chief of staff and one of Gadhafi's sons, Saadi.
"We are here on a private delegation only because I have met with Gadhafi more than any other American on three official congressional visits. I know the man and I wanted to basically have the chance to confront directly the issues that are important," he said.
CNN Wire Staff
Tokyo (CNN) - A powerful earthquake struck Japan on Thursday, triggering a tsunami warning for one prefecture and advisories in others.
The warning and advisories were lifted about 90 minutes later, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, but it left millions of Japanese rattled.
The quake was closer to the Japanese coast than last month's 9.0-magnitude quake.
There were no reports of casualties from anywhere in the earthquake zone, though 20 people were injured, the National Police Agency said. Three of the 20 were thought to have serious injuries, said police.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake was a magnitude 7.4. The U.S. Geological Survey said it was 7.1. The USGS also said Thursday's quake could be considered an aftershock - making it the biggest one since the March 11 quake.
Workers evacuated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant following the quake, the Tokyo Electric Power Company said. The company said it has communication with the plant and the power is still on there. There were no immediate reports of damage, it said.
The workers returned later and were assessing any impact, CNN's Kyung Lah reported Friday. About four million homes remained without power.
The quake's epicenter was off the coast of Miyagi in northeastern Japan, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
The USGS said the quake was centered 41 miles (66 kilometers) from Sendai - one of the areas worst hit by last month's 9.0-magnitude quake - and 73 miles (118 kilometers) from Fukushima, where a crisis has been under way at the nuclear plant since last month's tsunami.
Alan Silverleib and Tom Cohen
Washington (CNN) - House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, announced Thursday afternoon that negotiators had not yet been able to reach an agreement on a federal budget covering the remainder of the current fiscal year.
The two men made the announcement after emerging from a round of talks at the White House with President Barack Obama. They said they expected to resume talks later Thursday afternoon and would return to the White House for additional discussions at 7 p.m. ET.
If Congress and the White House cannot reach an agreement by midnight Friday, when the current spending authorization measure expires, parts of the government will close down.
Shortly before Reid and Boehner addressed reporters, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives passed a short-term government spending bill that would delay the impending shutdown by one additional week.
The measure, which passed 247-181 in a largely party-line vote, funds the Pentagon for the remainder of the current fiscal year. It would also slash federal spending, however, by another $12 billion and is strongly opposed by Democrats in both Congress and the White House because of the programs for which funding would be cut.
Reid declared the bill a "nonstarter" before it cleared the House. The White House promised a veto if it reaches Obama's desk.
(CNN) - Military mom Emily O'Donnell has a solution for the government to avoid a shutdown: "Go to your room and do not come out until your job is done."
The 27-year-old mother of four is "furious" that parts of the federal government could shut down tomorrow if Congress cannot agree on a budget. If that happens, paychecks for military workers could be delayed indefinitely. Troops are guaranteed back-pay, but not knowing when they'll receive a check could put some military families in financial crisis.