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North Korea, where cell phones are banned, goes 3G

The Sawiris family, which owns Egyptian telecom firm Orascom, has a history of making smart business deals. So maybe they know something the rest of us don't?

An Egyptian company said it will launch 3G mobile telephone service in North Korea on Monday, after winning the contract to build the advanced network in a country where private cell phones are banned. [...]

It was not clear what restrictions, if any, would be imposed on the network, which provides data capabilities as well as phone services. Ordinary North Koreans are forbidden from having cellular phones, and the government maintains strict controls over Internet access.

At a minimum, it's a great opportunity for the world's espionage services.

UPDATE: CrunchGear's Nicholas Deleon comments:

I just find it funny that there's going to be 3G in Pyongyang and I can't so much as get T-Mobile EDGE here in Dutchess County, NY, which is about an hour north of NYC.

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Ecuador defaults, calls lenders 'monsters'

Ecuador, surely the first of many countries to do so in the months ahead, is defaulting on its debt. And who does President Rafael Correa blame for this parlous state of affairs? The lenders, whom he calls "monsters" whose loans are "obviously immoral and illegitimate."

Hmm. Too bad Correa has alienated Uncle Sam. Maybe his friend Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will help? Surely Iran has the clout to convince lenders to agree to new terms, no?

In any case, here's a possible side effect of Ecuador's default: prices of bananas may go up. Seriously -- Ecuador is literally a banana republic, and agriculture is a business fueled by credit. And after this move by Correa, it's going to be awfully expensive to borrow money in Quito.

UPDATE: Felix Salmon says the default is "idiotic":

In the annals of idiotic political decisions, today's default by Ecuador has to rank pretty high. [...] This debt has already been restructured twice, and there's zero chance that bondholders will agree to it being restructured a third time. They know that Ecuador has the ability to pay, and they don't like being bullied.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images