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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: To our Facebook fans in Kansas, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania and to everyone who's watching us around the world, welcome to CNN Student News. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Japan Nuclear Crisis

AZUZ: First up, Japan's prime minister wants some answers from the company that runs the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Specifically, the prime minister wants to know when the crisis at the plant is going to be over. He's looking for a timetable from the Tokyo Electric Power Company, and he says one should be coming soon. He's also promised to get this crisis under control "at all costs."

In the meantime, the Japanese government has classified the situation at the Fukushima plant as a level 7. That means it is among the most serious nuclear accidents ever. That rating is based on how much radiation has been released from the plant, and it means officials expect long-term efforts to deal with all the issues caused by this accident. Thousands of people have had to leave the region around the plant. The prime minister promised to help them find jobs, housing and education.

What's happening in Japan has some people remembering another nuclear accident that took place nearly 25 years ago. It was a meltdown at Chernobyl nuclear plant in the former Soviet Union. Diana Magnay looks at the long-lasting effects of the worst nuclear accident in history.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're driving through the exclusion zone en route to Chernobyl. It doesn't feel like a place where the world's worst-ever nuclear accident happened almost 25 years ago. The sun lends a wintry charm to the derelict homes we passed. In all, nearly 350,000 people were forced to abandon their homes as a radioactive cloud blew over Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

This village is called Zalissya in Ukrainian, which literally means "behind the forest." But as you can see now, it has been completely consumed by the forest. And when the villages were evacuated about ten days after the accident took place, they thought that they'd be able to come back here, that this village would be inhabitable again. But as you can see, that wasn't to be the case.

So, this is the memorial. How many people died immediately after the accident?

YURI TATARCHUK, CHERNOBYL GUIDE: Answer, about 30 people in one month died overall. Highly radiated.

MAGNAY: Yuri Tatarchuk, who's our certified guide from Ukraine's ministry of emergencies, says the final death toll from the nuclear fallout is impossible to calculate, but that it's less than people feared. Estimates from the International Atomic Energy Agency put the number at 4,000. But the World Health Organization points to 4,000 incidents of thyroid cancer among children from the affected areas.

TATARCHUK: So now, it's 8.7, 9 microsieverts.

MAGNAY: Radiation's not down to normal, but Tatarchuk says it's not a health risk if you're just here for the day.

TATARCHUK: We're staying here just minutes, but it's not so sure if such levels of radiation inhabiting here is not allowed.

MAGNAY: We're not the only visitors. A Russian tour group picked their way through frozen tower blocks in nearby Pripyat. The town was evacuated the day after reactor number four exploded, before the Soviet Union admitted it had a serious problem in one of its nuclear plants. This year, the government will remove restrictions to the exclusion zone, turning these Soviet ghost towns into a tourist destination, a chance for people to see for themselves the relics of a nuclear catastrophe frozen in time. Diana Magnay, CNN, Pripyat, Ukraine.


What's the Word


When a government spends more money than it takes in, the difference is called a _____?


That's the word!

Budget Battle

AZUZ: In March, the U.S. federal deficit was $188 billion. President Obama and Congress are looking at ways to reduce that deficit. Republicans laid out some ideas last week. The president is scheduled to outline his plan in a speech later today.

In more immediate budget news, though, we're getting some details about the spending cuts that could be voted on this week. This is part of the deal that helped avoid the government shutdown last week. $38.5 billion in cuts would affect programs from the Transportation, Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services departments. Of course, Congress has to pass that deal before any of it would happen, and votes are scheduled for later this week.


STAN CASE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to the social studies students and teachers at Salisbury High School in Salisbury, North Carolina! Which space shuttle went into orbit first? Here we go! Was it: A) Atlantis, B) Columbia, C) Discovery or D) Endeavour? Start the countdown at three seconds -- and GO! Columbia was the first shuttle to launch into orbit. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Retiring Shuttles

AZUZ: The launch happened exactly 30 years ago this week. And in honor of the anniversary, NASA is announcing where the shuttle fleet is going to spend its retirement. You'll be able to visit Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Endeavour at a science center in Los Angeles. Discovery is headed to the Smithsonian in Washington. And Enterprise -- a shuttle that never actually went into space -- will be on display at a museum in New York. The 30th anniversary of Columbia's first flight was also the 50th anniverary of a major milestone for the Russian space program. Matthew Chance has more on that celebration.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, MOSCOW: It was perhaps the greatest journey one man has ever taken. Propelled 50 years ago into space on a Soviet rocket, Yuri Gagarin made the first ever orbit of the Earth. For 108 minutes, he was crammed inside his tiny capsule, giving the world a vivid commentary of the planet far below.

YURI GAGARIN, SOVIET COSMONAUT [TRANSLATED]: I am continuing the flight. The overload is somewhat increasing, as well as the vibration. But I am feeling well, and I'm in great spirits. I can see the Earth and can distinguish the features of its terrain.

CHANCE: Well, this is just a replica of the actual Vostok capsule in which Yuri Gagarin made that first historic flight. For some reason, the original is kept in the museum of a state corporation and isn't on general public view. But this space exhibition in Moscow is filled with originals, including a number of contemporaries of Yuri Gagarin himself. Men like Alexei Leonov, the first Soviet cosmonaut to conduct a spacewalk, here to celebrate the achievements of 50 years ago.

ALEXEI LEONOV, RUSSIAN COSMONAUT [TRANSLATED]: In the past, we used to make a point of whether he or she was an American or a Russian or whatnot. In my view, if we don't remember what happened 50 years ago, we will forget everything in 100 years.

CHANCE: At the height of the Cold War, Gagarin's success was a high-profile victory over the United States, seen as evidence of Soviet domination in the space race. He was dispatched overseas in what the Kremlin called "missions of peace." It made him a global icon. And his flight on April 12, 1961 also led president John F. Kennedy to declare that America would put a man on the moon by 1970. Today, American astronauts are ready to acknowledge Gagarin's pioneering mission.

THOMAS STAFFORD, U.S. ASTRONAUT: Well, there always has to be a first (inaudible). And at the time, you know, there was a big competition (inaudible). I will say here today, without Yuri Gagarin's flight, I probably would not have flown to the moon.

CHANCE: Everybody's friends now.

STAFFORD: Oh, yes.

CHANCE: Gagarin didn't live to witness the hundreds who've journeyed to space since his first flight. He was killed in 1968 in a plane crash. But an untimely death has only added to the mythical status of the first man in space.


Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, do you remember the states we mentioned at the beginning of today's show? You would if you were in this competition. It's the U.S. Memory Championship; we're talking mental muscle. The tournament involves memorizing names, faces and numbers. For one round, you have to memorize the order of a shuffled deck of playing cards. This year's champion took home the title -- and broke two U.S. records along the way -- last month in New York.


AZUZ: We were going to tell you about it then, but then we, uh, forgot. We hope you remember to tune in for more CNN Student News tomorrow. We'll see you then.


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