UNDERSTANDING THE NATURE OF THE JAPANESE NUCLEAR CRISIS…. After seeing the devastation caused by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, it seemed unfathomable that a second shoe would drop, which could prove to be even deadlier. But with an ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the threats facing Japan are far from over.

For those of us whose understanding of nuclear issues lacks detail or depth — a group I’m admittedly a part of — I found Rachel Maddow’s summary last night extremely helpful.

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If you can’t watch clips from your work computer, or if you’re looking for a little more in the way of details, this step-by-step visual report from the Washington Post is also excellent.

For ongoing coverage, Matt Yglesias flagged several worthwhile online outlets, including a blog from the Union of Concerned Scientists and the American Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s own blog.

As for the politics, it’s tempting to think the crisis would undermine policymakers’ drive to expand U.S. nuclear power. Dave Weigel reported last night that developments in Japan have not, as of yet, affected officials’ support for new nuclear power plants.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.