Japan Fukushima water release; Russia-Ukraine conflict; Microsoft-Nuance deal


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Today on The Leaders' Brief -

  • In a decision that has alarmed environmentalists over the world, Japan announced that it will release over 1 million tonnes of contaminated water from the defunct Fukushima nuclear station into the sea. The decision has received a mixed response from world powers. Among those opposing the decision are Japan’s immediate neighbours- South Korea and China. Amongst supporters, both the IAEA and the United States have called the development an important step in decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. According to the announcement made by the Japanese government the first release of water will take place in about two years time.

  • Despite stern warnings from western powers including USA, Russian troops continue to gather around the Crimean peninsula, raising concerns about the possibility of Moscow attacking Kyiv. After Russia sent troops near the Ukrainian border, the European Union and the USA promised unwavering support to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinskiy in Ukraine's confrontation with Russia-backed separatists holding parts of the country's eastern Donbas region. A few weeks ago, Russia announced the start of mass military drills. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced, assuring that the military movements are a routine drill and pose no threat to Ukraine. Meanwhile, the UK and the USA have warned Russia of consequences if it does not deescalate troops from the Donbas region.

  • In an attempt to better its investments in developing health care based AI systems, Microsoft has announced that it would buy artificial-intelligence-based speech-recognition developers Nuance Communications, for about $16 billion. In acquiring Nuance, Microsoft is hoping to bolster its offerings for the fast-growing field of medical computing. Nuance has an established set of customers and a wide array of speech and text data related to health care and is responsible for creating production tools such as Dragon. Announcing its plans, Microsoft said that the acquisition would double the size of the healthcare market where it competed, to almost $500 billion.

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