PODCAST: Turning over a new leaf at Toyota, and at the EPA

US Sen. John Schumer,D-NY, and Tom Harkin(R),D-IA, speak on the 'fiscal cliff' during press conference December 19, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Speaking on House Speaker John Boehner's proposed plan 'B', Schumer told reporters that it may pass the House, but would be 'dead on arrival' in the Senate.

Toyota has agreed to one of the largest settlements in automotive history. Pending court approval, the company will pay more than $1 billion to resolve a class-action lawsuit related to unintended acceleration. This settlement goes to those who feel the giant recall made them lose money on a sale or trade-in of their Toyota car.

The Obama Administration announced this morning the head of the Environmental Protection Agency -- Lisa Jackson -- is stepping down. This is the time, at the start of a second term, when many Cabinet-level jobs turn over. Jackson says she's ready for new opportunities and more time with her family. The president praised her for making our air and water safer.

New homes in the U.S. were selling at the fastest pace in November in more than two years.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment is now at its lowest level since early in the economic downturn.

But U.S. consumer confidence has taken a dive in the first part of December.
                     
The daily data continues to wash over us, but investors and consumers are waiting for the big kahuna: will we make or miss the fiscal cliff deadline?

The British government is plowing more public money into a kind of miracle substance -- something called Graphene. It is said to be the lightest, thinnest, and strongest material known to man. It was developed in Britain and could revolutionize high-tech manufacturing.

And finally, Tis the season for "best of" and "year in review" lists, and today I bring you a sampling from ESPN's wrap-up of the oddest aspects of this year's baseball season. Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds hit a home run... with a bat that he accidentally let go of mid-swing. The Pittsburgh Pirates hit back to back homers that both clanked off the same foul pole. And Maybe most significant: 2012 was the year of the no-hitter. This year in the MLB, pitchers threw 12 of them. As ESPN points out, even the Mets got one.

And "wrapping up" -- that's a pun which you will fully appreciate and adore in just a moment -- Some brilliant business minds in Brazil have figured out how to make fast food even faster. A popular burger chain there called "Bob's" has officially rolled out the edible wrapper. In case you don't believe it, their new ad campaign features customers chowing down on Bob's burgers without unwrapping them, and apparently enjoying it. While this is clearly a marketing gimmick, and it raises a lot of questions -- "do they wear gloves when they hand me my sandwich" is one I would like to ask -- some commentators point out edible wrapper technology could ultimately be better for the environment.

About the author

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

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