Dangerous levels of radiation leaking from a crippled nuclear plant forced Japan to order 140,000 people to seal themselves indoors Tuesday after an explosion and a fire dramatically escalated the crisis spawned by a deadly tsunami.
In a nationally televised statement, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said radiation had spread from the four stricken reactors of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant along Japan’s northeastern coast. The region was shattered by Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that is believed to have killed more than 10,000 people, plunged millions into misery and pummeled the world’s third-largest economy.
Via Mike Allen’s newsletter, we see in the first line how the leader of the free world will spend his day during this awful crisis:
President Obama is taping his NCAA picks today, and they’ll be revealed tomorrow on ESPN.
Okay, that’s not all he’s doing. “Obama will tape interviews from the Map Room with KOAT Albuquerque, KDKA Pittsburgh and WVEC Hampton Roads on education reform and the need to fix No Child Left Behind.”
Japan faces an almost unparalleled crisis, Libya is in civil war, and we’re having another budget showdown after running up a $222.5 billion deficit in the 28 days of February. And after last week’s bullying summit, Obama is spending this week talking education reform.
UPDATE: I spoke too soon. Of course he’s taking an easy schedule today; he was working hard last night:
President Obama makes his first major fund-raising pitch for his 2012 re-election on Monday night when he meets with about 50 backers—some involved in his 2008 campaign and others who are considered potential major supporters.
Obama meets with the group at the St. Regis Hotel at 7:30 p.m. est at an event organized by the Democratic National Committee, which is the political arm of the Obama operation for now since “official” Obama re-election papers have yet to be filed with the Federal Election Commission. No money for the 2012 re-elect can be collected until Obama files with the FEC. Any pledges obtained at the DNC reception Monday night–it is a DNC event–goes to the DNC. But since the main purpose of the DNC at this stage is to support Obama’s programs and re-election–it is a difference without a major distinction.