North Korea Gets Its Hands on Electromagnetic Pulse Weaponry
Today in international tech news: North Korea is reportedly developing an electromagnetic pulse weapon. Also: Samsung's recruitment drives are a big friggin' deal in South Korea; a handful of EU countries appear to have broken EU surveillance laws; and the dough for Fairfax Financial's big $1 billion investment in BlackBerry comes from far and wide.
11/08/13 11:03 AM PT
North Korea is developing electromagnetic pulse weapons designed to disable enemy electronics, according to South Korea's National Intelligence Service.
Some American politicians, including Republicans Newt Gingrich and Rep. Trent Franks, have issued dire warnings about EMP technology. Gingrich went so far as to claim that an EMP attack "could be the kind of catastrophe that ends civilization, and that's not an exaggeration." In 2011, Franks helped launch the Congressional EMP Caucus.
Samsung Recruitment Exams a Huge Deal for South Korean Students
Samsung recruitment rounds, which include exams and interviews designed to determine the best potential employees, are a pressure-packed, excitement-filled event in South Korea.
Reuters ran a feature on the exams, quoting students who are themselves dreaming of landing jobs at Samsung.
Samsung will hire more than 5,000 young people -- from more than 100,000 applications -- during its current recruitment round. These long odds, and the accompanying stress on youngsters who think that a job at Samsung is a face-saving achievement, are a far cry from years past: Samsung reportedly used to enlist a fortune-teller who specialized in reading faces to help with interviews.
Nowadays, US$20 test workbooks are available in bookstores throughout South Korea, while private tutoring has also caught on (despite the sometimes four-figure price tag).
Surveillance Agencies Breached EU Law
The U.S. doesn't appear to be alone, however, in breaking EU law.
A Spanish jurist and a professor in the Netherlands told the EU Parliament in Brussels Thursday that a handful of European countries -- including Germany, France, the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden -- have also violated basic EU articles. The duo added that EU law enforcement body Europol and EU foreign services intelligence-sharing branch, IntCen, were using "stolen" data (also a no-no).
The UK was nonplussed by the accusations. Britain's EU ambassador wrote a letter to EU parliament saying that the chief of the nation's intelligence agency, GCHQ, had no obligation to answer any questions from Brussels. "National security is the sole responsibility of member states," he added.
[Source: The Guardian]
Fairfax's BlackBerry Deal Attracts Investors Far and Wide
This week's $1 billion investment in BlackBerry, orchestrated by Canadian firm Fairfax Financial Holdings, drew a wide array of investors.
Qatar Holding LLC ($100 million) was among those who bought debentures, a type of bond used to secure financing, along with Canada's Canso Investment Counsel ($300 million).
BlackBerry's cash and short-term investments fell by nearly half-a-billion dollars last quarter to $2.3 billion, according to Bloomberg. At that rate, the company will be penniless by the end of 2014, Bloomberg added.
BlackBerry had been in the market for a sale of all or part of the company -- and reportedly had numerous interested suitors -- but the deal with Fairfax fell through earlier this week, leaving the company hanging.