Governments spying on each other is nothing new. Nor is corporate spying: The U.S. textile industry began after American industrial spies stole factory plans from 18th century Britain.
But Dan McWhorter, managing director of cyber security firm Mandiant, says the scale of China’s state-sponsored theft of data from U.S. companies is unprecedented and difficult for a democratic society to grasp.
"There’s such a firm divide between government and corporation, that it’s hard to wrap your head around," says McWhorter. "In a communist government, the government and industry are tied together and they’re hard to distinguish at times."
Innovation at all costs is what China is after, says James McGregor, author of No Ancient Wisdom, No Followers: The Challenge of China’s Authoritarian Capitalism:
"It’s hard to understand why China wants to face the world with what appears to almost be an economic war footing," says McGregor.
Equally confounding, says McGregor, is the deafening silence on the part of U.S. businesses that have been hacked.
The Mandiant report says Chinese hackers stole terabytes of data from Coca-Cola, yet the company isn’t talking about it. It’s a typical response, says McGregor, for companies who don’t want to upset their sales in China.
"By hiding under a rock and pretending it’s not happening while at the same time they’re hugely threatened, all they’re doing is inviting more of it to happen," says McGregor.
McGregor says a more appropriate response would be to tackle the issue head-on without initially making China lose face.
"If those companies had held a press conference that said ‘we’ve been hacked out of China, the Chinese government says they’re not involved in this, so we’re going to take them at face value and we’re having this press conference to ask the Chinese government to help us figure out who did this and put a stop to it,'" McGregor says, then the onus is on China to do something about it.
Or you can let the U.S. government do it.
Obama administration officials say they are planning to tell China’s new leaders in coming weeks that the volume and sophistication of the attacks have become so intense that they threaten the fundamental relationship between Washington and Beijing.
We know Google plans to make its high tech spectacles called Google Glass available this year. The price tag: about $1,500 a pair. But are these lens-less frames really a technological revolution?
"It's cool for a piece of technology," says Joshua Topolsky, editor and chief of The Verge, who took an official test run of the specs around New York City. But "it has to transcend a piece of technology because you are wearing it on your face."
Though Topolsky says the average person may not be quick to don Google Glass -- at least in its current state -- partnerships with companies like Rayban or Warby Parker could help win over mainstream users.
And then there are slick new features which could interest more than just tech geeks. Glass makes use of Google's Knowledge Graph which serves up instant, easy-to-read information when you search.
"If you ask for the weather, it won't just give you links to the weather, it will show you what the weather is on a nice stylized card," explains Topolsky.
To hear more about Google Glass, click on the audio player above.
High speed Internet in cars could soon become a feature as common as satellite radio or CD players. General Motors and AT&T have announced that so-called "LTE" wireless connections will come as an option in many Chevys, Buicks, Cadillacs, and GMC's next year.
Live traffic maps, Internet radio, and streaming movies are just the beginning for car interiors that could soon could be dominated by apps.
Ford and BMW already have something like this, as does Audi. If the GM deal finally produces a critical mass of "internetobiles," what you have is a big opportunity or a big threat for regular FM and AM radio stations that also cherish the in-car audience.
Molly Wood, executive editor at CNET, joins Marketplace Tech host David Brancaccio from Barcelona's Mobile World Congress meeting to discuss the future of car radio.
This final note on the way out. We did a thing a couple of months ago about beer, and how you could tell a lot about a person's politics by the beverage they choose.
Today, the non-alcoholic version. The polling group Public Policy Polling has some new data. Democrats apparently choose regular sodas over diet: 47 percent to 31. Republicans go 42 percent for diet, 34 for regular. Coke beats Pepsi no matter how you vote.
And soda beats beer. Which just beats me.
Another blizzard bore down on the nation's midsection early Tuesday after lashing the Texas Panhandle with hurricane-force winds, closing highways and cutting power to thousands in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Midwesterners still digging out from last week's deep snowpack braced for more.
A hot air balloon flying over Egypt's ancient city of Luxor caught fire and crashed into a sugar cane field on Tuesday, killing at least 18 foreign tourists, a security official said. It was one of the worst accidents involving tourists in Egypt and likely to push the key tourism industry deeper into recession
Since the recession, people in the timber industry have watched everything fall except the trees. Jobs, housing starts, the price of lumber itself. That’s finally turning around.
“The lumber market throughout 2012 and into early 2013 has been in a recovery mode,” says Shawn Church, who edits the newsletter Random Lengths, which tracks softwood lumber prices in North America.
Church says the cost of softwood has gone from $284 last February to $415 today.
It’s spiked because of a growing Asian market, a modest rise in home construction and a smaller timber harvest.
Jameson French, President of Northland Forest Products, says after the recession, lumber producers just aren’t ready to cut more trees.
“So you made your business leaner and meaner. And to jump back in is going to take a lot more than the signs of housing recovery in the U.S.,” he says.
French hopes timber companies don’t rush back into the woods. He worries if they do, the industry’s soft rebound could collapse with a surplus of wood that no one wants.
The debate currently raging over guns goes beyond a disagreement over policy. Advocates on both sides literally disagree on the terms of the discussion — as in, the words they use to describe it. They know that the specific phrases they use tap into deeply held values in the people who hear them.