World Briefs: Russia plans build-up in Kurile isles

Russia plans build-up in Kurile isles

MOSCOW • Russia will this year deploy some of its newest missile defence systems and drones on the Kurile islands where Moscow and Tokyo have rival territorial claims, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said yesterday.

The dispute over the islands, known as the Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, has strained relations between the two countries since World War II, when Soviet forces occupied four islands at the southern end of the chain.

The dispute is so acrimonious that Moscow and Tokyo have still not signed a formal peace treaty. The new weapons were part of a drive to re-arm military units already deployed in the Kuriles, Mr Shoigu said, in comments broadcast on state TV.


Australia slams Japan's whale hunt

SYDNEY • Australia yesterday branded Japan's killing of 333 whales "abhorrent", saying there was no scientific justification for the Antarctic hunt.

The Japanese fleet set sail for the Southern Ocean in December despite a worldwide moratorium and opposition led by Australia and New Zealand, using a loophole in the ban that allows for lethal research.

On Thursday, Japan's Fisheries Agency announced enough whales had been killed for "scientific research" as the boats returned to port.


Microsoft shuts down chatbot Tay

NEW YORK • Tay, Microsoft's so-called chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to engage with millennials on Twitter, lasted less than a day before it was hobbled by a barrage of racist and sexist comments by Twitter users that it parroted back to them.

TayTweets (@TayandYou), which began tweeting on Wednesday, was designed to become "smarter" as more users interacted with it, according to its Twitter biography. But it was shut down by Microsoft early on Thursday after it made a series of inappropriate tweets.

A Microsoft representative said on Thursday that the company was "making adjustments" to the chatbot while the account is quiet.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2016, with the headline 'World Briefs: Russia plans build-up in Kurile isles'. Print Edition | Subscribe