Leaders of the BRICS nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- are wrapping up a summit today. They have a new plan to create a bank to fuel economic growth in the developing world.
The BBC's Matt Davies joins Marketplace Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson from the summit in Durban, South Africa to discuss the details behind the bank plan.
A group of European software developers is complaining that Microsoft uses a feature to block alternate operating systems on machines bought with Windows 8. The head of HispaLinux, the Linux system association making the claims against Microsoft, is calling Microsoft "absolutely anti-competitive."
Separately, the European Commission hit Microsoft with a big fine this month for failing to live up to an agreement to offer Windows users in Europe a choice of Internet browsers.
Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC in Seattle, joins Marketplace Tech host David Brancaccio to explain both sides of the dispute.
The public lawyers who defend the nation's poor in federal courts across the country are bracing for sequester budget cuts they say will harm their ability to try cases.
Perched behind a giant desk in a downtown St. Louis office, federal public defender Lee Lawless rifles through stacks of paper to find the one telling him how much he has cut his budget.
"The total that we have to make up from salaries and other items that we have cut is just under $530,000," says Lawless.
Or about 10 percent of his entire budget. The cuts will be made up by furloughing 26 staff, including Lawless, two days a month. He says that will have the immediate impact of slowing the wheels of justice for people waiting for their day in court.
"Defenders don't have programs that they can cut, I mean, it's just people and defenders have an obligation to represent people who are indicted," says Catherine Blake, a U.S. District Judge overseeing the federal defense program.
She notes that federal defense attorneys don't choose which cases they'll take.
"It's prosecutors who are bringing cases and people who are being indicted. They need a lawyer."
Some federal courts have already announced they'll stop trying criminal cases on Fridays.
The Major League Baseball season begins this Sunday, and nowhere is the idea of going out to the ol’ ball park being met with less enthusiasm than Miami. The Marlins owner, Jeffrey Loria, traded away its top talent. The move saved him some money, but made Loria a local Grinch.
According to the team’s management, only around 5,000 season tickets have been sold for the new stadium this year.
Danny Zuccari used to buy season tickets for the Marlins. But this year?
“No. Absolutely not,” says Zuccari. “There is no way in the world that I’m going to be a season ticket holder this year.”
Zuccari believed Jeffrey Loria, the owner, would bankroll a competitive team if Miami tax-payers helped pay for a new stadium.
“They built the team up last year, and they spent a lot of money. And I give them credit for that,” says Zuccari. “But then they turn around, after one year, and they dump everybody. I mean, everybody of significance that is a 'name player'. Whether it was Josh Johnson, or Mark Buehrle or Jose Reyes.”
“The fans understandably felt like it was a bit of a bait-and-switch,” says Neil deMause, who co-authored the book Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit. “It’s like, ‘Okay, fine. We had to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build this new stadium, but at least we’re supposed to get a good team. Right?’ Well, apparently not.”
Even a bad team can make money for owner Jeffrey Loria.
“He’s been running a team where he’s basically content to not win a whole lot of ballgames, and just sit back and collect revenue-sharing checks from the league,” says deMause.
But Loria has paid for it with his popularity.
“Loria certainly does have a claim to being possibly the worst owner in baseball," says deMause.
We tried to reach Jeffrey Loria. Instead, questions were fielded by the Marlins president, David Samson.
“Jeffrey Loria is not a bad owner at all,” says Samson. “He’s won a World Series, which is more than most have done. And he put so much of his own money, when others wouldn’t, to build a new ballpark.”
Samson understands fans are upset. But baseball is also a business.
“We had to cut payroll because things didn’t work out on the business side, or the baseball side,” says Samson.
He says Miami would be worse off without the stadium and Jeffrey Loria.
“Unless there had been a new ballpark and an owner like Jeffrey Loria willing to put in $160 Million of his own money into that ballpark, then the Marlins unfortunately wouldn’t be in Miami,” says Samson. “And now baseball will be here for decades and generations to come.”
Another thing that will endure is the backlash.
The repercussions are being felt by other sports teams in the area. A recent survey shows most Miami residents disapprove of another plan being floated to use taxpayer money to remodel a football stadium for the Miami Dolphins.
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is going electronic today. It’s the first time in 76-years, that the iconic bridge will be without a human toll taker.
The most obvious reason for going all-electronic is to save money. In the case of the Golden Gate Bridge, they’re saying the move will save $16 million in eight years -- that’s mostly salaries and benefits.
Of course there’s a human toll -- nine people lost their jobs. Another 17 are being placed elsewhere or are retiring.
But Patrick Jones, the executive director of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association says San Francisco is following a nationwide trend.
"You’ve seen it happen on the Tobin Bridge in Boston. You’ve seen entire systems switching to all electronic tolling in Denver, Colorado; Dallas, Texas; the North Texas Tollway Authority; Austin, Texas," says Jones.
Christopher Zegras is a professor of transportation and urban planning at MIT. And he says the “big picture” isn’t just about saving money but finding more ways to fund our decaying highways.
"I predict within the next 10 years we will have a system that’s much less based on the gas tax and much more based on we pay for what we use," Zegras says.
And, Zegras adds, electronic toll technology will pave the way to that future.
This final note today, in which the sequester makes a surprise appearance. Part of the way the executive branch is gonna cut costs, as you may have heard, is by furloughing federal employees. Forcing people to take a certain number of days off through the end of the fiscal year.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development said that's just too hard. Here's the key quote from the head of human resources at HUD: "The Department has over 9,000 employees. Multiplying the number of employees by seven days off would mean that there would be 63,000 scheduling decisions that would need to be made over a six-month period."
So instead, they're just gonna close the entire department for seven specific days between now and August 30th.