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Business Highlights

The economy isn't growing fast enough to accelerate hiring. Flat pay and high unemployment are holding back consumer spending, which rose at a meager annual rate of 1.6 percent in the July-September quarter.

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Bangladesh fire victims' families wait for money

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) â¿¿ When fire ravaged a Bangladeshi garment factory, killing 112 workers, dozens of their families did not even have a body to bury because their loved ones' remains were burned beyond recognition. Two months later, the same families have yet to receive any of the compensation they were promised â¿¿ not even their relatives' last paychecks.

An official with the country's powerful garment industry said DNA tests must first be conducted to confirm the losses of more than 50 families. He would not say why the families have not even received the wages their relatives had earned before the Nov. 24 blaze.

Many of the families desperately need money after losing their primary breadwinners in the fire at the Tazreen factory, which made clothes for Wal-Mart, Disney and other Western brands.

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Congress charts new collision course over deficit

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The nation's sharp disagreements over taxes and spending are on a re-routed collision course, as Senate Democrats launch a plan that includes new taxes and House Republicans vow to speed up their plan to balance the federal budget with spending cuts alone.

The Republicans' new approach would require even deeper cuts in social programs than they pushed last year. Liberals denounced those earlier plans as severe and unfair, and they say the new version would be worse.

The new commitments by House and Senate members stem from the ongoing dispute over raising the federal debt ceiling. The House voted Wednesday to postpone any showdown over the borrowing limit for three months. The Democratic-led Senate plans to endorse the idea, which the White House also supports.

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