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Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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How to fix US debt without hurting fragile economy

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ An ax is scheduled to hit the federal budget Friday. Unless the White House and Congress reach a budget deal by then, automatic cuts will carve $85 billion from authorized spending through Sept. 30 and $1.2 trillion over the next decade.

The cuts in defense spending, unemployment benefits and other programs could slow an already struggling economy. And they would leave unaddressed the biggest long-term threats to the government's finances â¿¿ rising bills for Medicare and Social Security.

Economists say there's a better way. Shrinking the federal debt doesn't have to mean either hurting the economy now or ignoring the spending burdens of the future.

Economists widely agree that policymakers should delay deep cuts such as the ones slated to take effect Friday until the economy has strengthened. But they say lawmakers should come up with a realistic long-term plan to fix the debt as soon as possible.

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Wireless connections creep into everyday things

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) â¿¿ A car that tells your insurance company how you're driving. A bathroom scale that lets you chart your weight on the Web. And a meter that warns your air conditioner when electricity gets more expensive.

Welcome to the next phase of the wireless revolution.

The first wave of wireless was all about getting people to talk to each other on cellphones. The second will be getting things to talk to each other, with no humans in between. So-called machine-to-machine communication is getting a lot of buzz at this year's wireless trade show. Some experts believe these connections will outgrow the traditional phone business in less than a decade.

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Apple CEO promises investors 'great stuff' to come

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) â¿¿ Apple CEO Tim Cook sought to reassure shareholders worried about the company's sagging stock price that the iPhone and iPad maker is on the verge of inventing more breakthrough products that will prove it hasn't lost its creative edge.

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