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PODCAST: BP pays, Europe's back in recession

A sign for a BP filling station is pictured in central London.

Quick bulletin on this big news of the day, which broke just as we were getting our last show to air: British oil giant BP has agreed to pay $44.5 billion to the U.S. government as a penalty for its role in the 2010 Gulf oil spill. It's the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history. BP also pleads guilty to 11 felony counts related to the deaths of crew members. Tune into this evening's Marketplace for more analysis.

This morning the data delivered some news that common sense prepared us for some time ago: Europe is officially back in recession. Economic output from the countries on the euro shrunk for two quarters in a row. The previous recession was only in 2009.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the Labor Department says consumer prices barely rose last month. Within that, though, the cost of housing increased the most in four years.             

If you're looking for a stock to watch today, check out Walmart. The world's largest retailer is not surprisingly feeling the effects of the slowdown in other parts of the world, and it's issuing a roll-back of expectations with its latest earnings report.
 
A report from two Washington think-tanks shows the wage gap between rich and poor continues to grow across the country.

It's been more than a year since Occupy Wall Street began trying to draw attention to inequality with its debut in New York's Zucotti Park. Since then, the movement's been trying out new initiatives. Tonight, it's an online celebrity telethon. The telethon will raise money to buy up and then pay off ordinary peoples' debts. It comes from an Occupy branch called Strike Debt, and they're calling this thing the "Rolling Jubilee."

Another highly caffeinated beverage is making headlines. This time its those shots of "5-Hour Energy." The FDA is looking into 13 reported deaths that might be related.

We've been informing you, almost every day now, about the latest on the "fiscal cliff." Across-the-board government spending cuts will kick in, and the Bush tax cuts will all expire with the new year if Congress and president can't cut a deal to address the deficit or at least buy some time. President Obama will meet tomorrow with members of Congress to start negotiations. Uncertainty over the looming package of tax increases and spending cuts has business leaders on edge.

Hey, smokers: Today's the day you're supposed to stop... doing that. It's the American Cancer Society's "Great American Smokeout" -- now in its 35th year. In that time, more than half of states have outlawed smoking in restaurants, bars and workplaces.

You've probably heard the terms "conflict diamonds" or "blood diamonds." I'll let you come up with a new term for these: South African police arrested a 25-year-old man who had swallowed 220 diamonds. He was attempting to board a plane for Dubai. Officials confirm all the smuggled diamonds were recovered. All it took was time and fiber.

And finally, it seemed like just a matter of time before someone hacked one of those electronic traffic signs. Instead of telling motorists that a road is closed for pipeline construction, this week a digital road sign in Northern California has warned drivers a gorilla is on the loose and reminded them to "smoke weed everyday."

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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