A retired couple from the London suburb of Bedford unknowingly tended to a marijuana plant they bought at a flea market. - 

The parade of quarterly earnings announcements begins later today, ceremoniously led as always by aluminum giant Alcoa. Alcoa's expected to show a profit of perhaps just a penny-a-share, compared with 15-cents this time last year.

Markets are down this morning on earnings mood, and on a very gloomy report from the IMF forecasting slower global growth ahead. The U.S. is the lone bright spot where the IMF thinks there will be decent growth, but that's no comfort on Wall Street.

There are rumors of trouble this morning with a major aerospace merger in Europe. British defense company BAE is declining to comment on reports that merger talks with EADS -- the parent company of Airbus -- have collapsed. The boards of both companies are meeting today, trying to figure out how they can put the two together in a way that pleases all the shareholders and regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.

If you're sick of paying fees for supposedly "free" checking, or to use your debit card, American Express and Walmart would like you to meet "Bluebird".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel just finished a press conference in Athens with the Greek Prime Minister. Greeks see Germany as the reason for the tight austerity policies there -- so she's been met today by huge protests.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner are in India today talking about ways to improve economic ties with the U.S.

The Cheesecake Factory has now spread itself from coast to coast, and no casual dining restaurant sells more per location. Now: if you're a CEO in that situation, you'd consider expanding to markets beyond the U.S. For the Cheesecake Factory, that means 22 new locations in, of all places, the Middle East.

A retired couple from the London suburb of Bedford enjoyed gardening, so this summer they picked up an unfamiliar, exotic-looking plant at a flea market.They tended it lovingly, and by the end of the season it was thriving -- and enormous, taller than their fence. Poking over the fence, in the end -- may have been its undoing. Local police have posted pictures on their web site of what they say is the most carefully tended cannabis plant they have ever seen.

Follow Jeff Horwich at @jeffhorwich