April 11th, 2011
08:57 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Big Aftershocks, Big Worries in Japan

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/04/11/monthlater.jpg caption="Hundreds of photos sit in baskets by the side of the road in the destroyed Japanese town of Minamisanriku." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

A magnitude-6.4 quake has hit Japan, following a 6.6-magnitude quake hours ago that knocked out power to the three damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Power has been restored, but a fire was detected in the last hour at a battery storage building near reactor number four. We're told the fire was put out and no radiation was emitted.

There's also word today, on the one-month anniversary of the devastating 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami, that Japan's government is evacuating more towns around the crippled plant. Officials said residents could face high doses of radiation for several months. The government could also raise the nuclear threat level to 7, the highest, from 5. Chernobyl was a level 7 accident.

We'll talk with CNN's Kyung Lah in Tokyo and former senior nuclear plant operator Michael Friedlander.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, House lawmakers are holding a rare late-night session to finalize the budget deal to keep the federal government running. We're waiting for details on the compromise reached Friday. We'll give you the information when it's released.

Details are sketchy, but we know this deal to fund the government through September 30 will include $38.5 billion in cuts.

As that work goes on, there's another fiscal feud in the works over whether to raise the nation's roughly $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. We could surpass the cap within the next five weeks, but the Federal Reserve could take steps and push it to July. A failure to raise the debt would lead to a default on Treasury debt. A default could put the economy in a tailspin with rising interest rates and damage to the dollar and U.S. bonds.

Since March 1962, the debt ceiling has been raised 74 times, according to the Congressional Research Service. Ten of those times have occurred since 2001.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said today that Republicans will make a mistake if they play "chicken" with the debt ceiling vote.

Carney also said failing to raise the ceiling would be "Armageddon-like in terms of the economy."

Keeping them Honest, President Obama had a much different take on the debt ceiling when he was a U.S. Senator.

We'll let you decide: Should the debt ceiling be raised or not? Share your thoughts below.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET on CNN.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. gini

    when the reporter fed the starving, tied up left to die dog in the town and gave him his lunch did he also help the dog get to a animal shelter? sad story for people and pets but the pet has no ability to get away.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  2. VY

    Is it me or that the government went on a shopping spree and finally the bill came and everyone is running around like a lunatic trying to "balance the budget"? I mean, really, trillions..who counts that high anyway? To me, you can be saying the government is GAZILLION in debt. Foreign concept. Once again, welcome to politics!

    April 11, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  3. RaDonna Wood Lexington, Tn.

    The photos! Now that really puts it in perspective for me! God, how horrible and sad! It makes me cry for the people! It makes me wish I could take them into my arms and protect them! Im so sorry that I cannot! May God bless you all and keep you forever and ever Amen!

    April 11, 2011 at 9:56 pm |