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    Red Alert: Aerospace Industry Counts Down to Cutbacks

    It's red alert time for aerospace industry executives, workers and contractors.

    As they mingled today at the Aerospace Industries Association's annual Year-End Outlook luncheon at a Washington Grand Hyatt, the bright red electronic digits kept counting down for them.

    The ever-changing figures on the large digital clock, set up on the ballroom stage, reminded the roughly 300 luncheon participants of the time left before they feel the effects of massive, automatic cuts in government spending.

    "Stop the clock," said a sign above the digits.

    As silver forks started to pick at green salads, the clock's countdown digits read: "27 days 11 hours 10 minutes 5 seconds."

    Aerospace workers may be facing huge layoffs if planned federal spending cuts go forward under a legal process known as sequestration. The cuts, including roughly $54 billion for U.S. national security spending, will commence in the new year unless Congress stops them during the complicated negotiations in progress on Capitol Hill.

    Defense budgeting should not be reduced to a mere "political bargaining chip," AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey said. Her scarlet suit matched the red digits as she stood along side the countdown clock.

    "It is far too easy to conclude that the companies, workers and communities that comprise this industry can withstand anything; that they can adapt to any change, no matter how sudden or harmful," she said.

    Blakey labeled herself an optimist who believes Congress will solve this fiscal crisis and block the drastic cuts now set on autopilot. But even so, the "fiscal cliff" drama already has harmed her industry, and the nation, she says.

    "What message did sequestration telegraph to the world about our country, our commitment to national security, our commitment to economic prosperity and our commitment to the next generation of defense and aerospace innovation?" she asked.

    Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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    Credibility Concerns Overshadow Release Of Gay Talese's New Book

    NPR's Kelly McEvers speaks with Paul Farhi of the Washington Post about Gay Talese's new book, The Voyeur's Hotel. The credibility of the book, which follows a self-proclaimed sex researcher who bought a hotel to spy on his guests through ventilator windows, has been called into question after Farhi uncovered problems with Talese's story.
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    Amid Craft Brewery Boom, Some Worry About A Bubble — But Most Just Fear Foam

    Fueled by customers' unquenchable thirst for the next great flavor note, the craft beer industry has exploded like a poorly fermented bottle of home brew.
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    White House Documents Number Of Civilians Killed In U.S. Drone Strikes

    The Obama administration issued a long awaited report Friday, documenting the number on civilians who have been accidentally killed by U.S. drone strikes. Human rights activists welcome the administration's newfound transparency, though some question whether the report goes far enough.
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    Tesla 'Autopilot' Crash Raises Concerns About Self-Driving Cars

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating a fatal crash involving a Tesla car using the "autopilot" feature. NPR's Robert Siegel talks to Alex Davies of Wired about the crash and what it means for self-driving car technology.

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