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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/.

    NPR

    He Died At 32, But A Young Artist Lives On In LA's Underground Museum

    When Noah Davis founded the museum, he wanted to bring world-class art to a neighborhood he likened to a food desert, meaning no grocery stores or museums. Davis died a year ago Monday.
    NPR

    The Strange, Twisted Story Behind Seattle's Blackberries

    Those tangled brambles are everywhere in the city, the legacy of an eccentric named Luther Burbank whose breeding experiments with crops can still be found on many American dinner plates.
    WAMU 88.5

    State Taxes, School Budgets And The Quality Of Public Education

    Budget cutbacks have made it impossible for many states to finance their public schools. But some have bucked the trend by increasing taxes and earmarking those funds for education. Taxes, spending and the quality of public education.

    NPR

    Surfers And Scientists Team Up To Create The 'Perfect Wave'

    Surfers once deemed man-made waves weak and mushy compared to the best that break along the coast. Then engineers and an 11-time world champion surfer showed just how good an artificial wave can be.

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