On a Friday, it is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
In a unanimous ruling, a federal appeals court has struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act. The First Circuit Court of Appeals, in Boston, ruled the 1996 law unconstitutional because it denies giving gay couples the same rights afforded to heterosexual couples. As NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty reports, the ruling sets the stage for a potential battle at the U.S. Supreme Court.
It's been more than a year since Wisconsin Democrats began talking about recalling the state's governor, Scott Walker. Next week they'll get their chance to do it. Last night, Walker and his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, traded barbs in their final debate before Tuesday's vote. Turnout is expected to be very high, as the recall is sharply dividing voters in Wisconsin, so much so, some have just stopped talking to each other. NPR's David Schaper has the latest from Milwaukee.
NPR's business news starts with a new, multibillion-dollar chemical plant.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GREENE: Exxon Mobil plans to build a huge chemical facility in Baytown, Texas. It reverses a company statement last year that said it has no plans for new chemical factories in the United States. According to Reuters, decades-low natural gas prices made the move too enticing to pass over. Natural gas is a key fuel in chemical production. By using its own natural gas, Exxon Mobil can run a chemical plant relatively cheaply.
Let's turn now to Florida, where a federal judge has blocked portions of a new election law that was causing a lot of debate. That law had put tough restrictions on groups conducting voter registration drives. Because of the restrictions, the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote stopped registering votes(ph) in the state. Those groups challenged the new law in court. And yesterday, Judge Robert Hinkle sided with the groups. He called the rules onerous and unconstitutional.
This election year we've seen a lot of cases where different people look at the same economic situation and come to different conclusions. And that seems to be happening in Michigan. It's America's comeback state - that according to its governor, Rick Snyder. Unemployment there is dropping, as the U.S. auto industry rebounds. And the state has a budget surplus for the first time in years.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene. The financial woes of Greece and other countries of the eurozone, have meant painful austerity measures in exchange for financial bailouts. Now, Irish voters have approved a European Union treaty to battle the debt crisis. It's an effort to enforce strict budget cuts or face financial penalties.
The Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure takes place tomorrow here in the nation's capital. It's one of the breast cancer charity's biggest fundraisers. But this year, participation is way down. That follows Komen's controversial decision in February to stop funding Planned Parenthood programs. The decision was quickly reversed, but Komen's supporters worry about the long-term impact, as NPR's Pam Fessler reports.
OK, let's turn now to personal wealth. Today's last word in business is disappearing millions.
The number of millionaire households in this country declined in 2011. That's according to this year's Global Wealth Study from the Boston Consulting Group. It found the number of American households with a million dollars of investable assets shrunk by 2.5 percent.
The U.S. still leads the world in millionaires, but developing countries are gaining ground. Other countries added nearly 200,000 millionaire households in 2011.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently held one of his traveling Cabinet meetings in the disputed city of Kirkuk in an effort to show Iraqi Arabs on the edge of the Kurdish-controlled north that he's working on their behalf, too.
But the fact that he felt obliged to bring in large numbers of heavily armed troops for the event illustrated the tension plaguing Iraqi politics.
A decade ago, investors thought Greece would flourish on the euro. Money poured in, and banks started lending it out. Thefilos Papacostakis, a bank teller at Alpha Bank in Thessaloniki, got to hand out a lot of that money.
Last month, Thefilos says, his bosses called him in for a meeting. They told him things were about to get worse. When countries are in this kind of trouble, the bosses said, people panic and pull their money out of banks.
Andrew Garfield is an actor on the verge of superstardom — and he's only 28 years old.
Although Garfield may be best known to American audiences for playing Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network, Garfield started acting in England, where he grew up. There, Garfield made notable turns in the critically acclaimed Red Riding Trilogy as well as in Never Let Me Go, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.
A jury found former Democratic Sen. John Edwards not guilty on one count of campaign finance fraud and was deadlocked on five other counts. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C., filed an amicus brief in the Edwards corruption case, asking that it be thrown out. Melanie Sloan, executive director of the group, offers her insight.
With a not guilty verdict on one count and the jury deadlocked on five others, it appears John Edwards' federal trial on campaign-finance charges ended with a whimper, certainly from the Justice Department's point of view.
At first blush, it can be argued that how the trial of the former U.S. senator from North Carolina ended may do little to deter politicians. They'll still be able to go forward and rake in money from supporters and, with some sleight of hand, spend that cash on practically anything.
In Texas recently there was a grand opening for what is now the largest refinery in the U.S. Shell and Saudi Arabia's national oil company, Saudi Aramco, have more than doubled the capacity of their Port Arthur refinery.
The refinery business has been going through a tough period in recent years. Americans are buying less gasoline and other petroleum products — about 10 percent less than in 2005, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney picked up two big endorsements this week from GOP foreign policy luminaries: former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz.
At this point in the presidential race, endorsements are pretty routine. But these particular endorsements are important, since Romney has encountered some skepticism from foreign policy experts in his party.
Some Republicans expected the long, bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to alter their party's traditional interventionist view. Those Republicans are disappointed in Romney.
What is it about Brandi Carlile's voice that gets right inside you? The power? Her range? It may be the way she can crack open a note, as she does in her best-known song, "The Story," which was prominently featured on Grey's Anatomy.
This month, NPR's Backseat Book Club hits the high seas for an adventurous novel called Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. The book begins in 1841, and is based on the sprawling true-life tale of Manjiro, whose destiny was almost determined before birth as a son in a long line of fishermen. But a storm blew his life on a new course, and he became one of the first Japanese to set foot in America.
Poised to triumphantly clinch the Republican nomination for president, Romney instead was upstaged Tuesday by supporter Donald Trump's new birther-on-steroids shtick that stole the headlines and the candidate's big moment.
Then on Thursday, ready to embarrass President Obama by holding a "surprise" press event in front of Solyndra, the Obama-touted California solar energy company that failed after getting a $535 million government loan guarantee, Romney was upstaged yet again.
Spain's borrowing costs hit record highs this week and European stock markets have slumped over fears Madrid can't afford the price tag required to prop up its ailing banks. It's looking ever more likely the country will need some kind of bailout.
After watching Greece from afar for years, many Spaniards now believe Spain's number is up.
A tourist in Madrid might wonder where the crisis is. Traffic is heavy and the tapas bars are packed.
But listen in on some of the conversations, and it's clear that Spaniards are scared.
The school year's winding down, meaning teenagers around the country will soon be trying to pull in some extra cash scooping ice cream or manning those kiosks at the mall.
But with the job market still weak, teens are facing stiff competition landing summer jobs. And while the downturn has hit young job seekers particularly hard, it's not just the lingering effects of the Great Recession working against them: the drop-off in teen summer hiring actually began long before 2007.