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2018/08/03 第225期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 As ISIS Wanes, Threat of Terror Rises and Shifts 伊斯蘭國式微 恐怖威脅繼續蔓延
A Baby Bust, Rooted in Economic Insecurity 美國少子化 原因在經濟
As ISIS Wanes, Threat of Terror Rises and Shifts 伊斯蘭國式微 恐怖威脅繼續蔓延
文/Eric Schmitt

In Germany and France, authorities thwarted terrorists’ plots to attack with the deadly poison ricin. In eastern Syria, the Islamic State group continued its retreat under stepped-up assaults by Kurdish militia and Iraqi pilots. And extremists in Yemen, Somalia and Libya were targeted by U.S. airstrikes.


That spate of action, over the past few weeks alone, illustrates the shifting and enduring threat from Islamic extremism around the world that will last long after the Islamic State is defeated on the battlefield.


From the scheming of lone extremists with no apparent connections to terrorist groups, like the ricin plots, to fighters aligned with the Islamic State or al-Qaida in more than two dozen countries, terrorist threats are as complex and diverse as ever, U.S. and other Western intelligence officials said in interviews.


The Islamic State, in particular, is adapting to setbacks and increasingly using the tools of globalization — including bitcoin and encrypted communications — to take their fight underground and rally adherents around the world.


“If you look across the globe, the cohesive nature of the enterprise for ISIS has been maintained,” Russell Travers, acting head of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in an interview, using another name for the Islamic State.


“There’s not been any breaking up, at least not as yet,” Travers said. “The message continues to resonate with way too many people.”


The Pentagon’s latest defense strategy elevates Russia and China above terrorism in the hierarchy of national threats. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met late last month with the four-star commanders of U.S. Special Operations forces and troops in Africa to discuss options for halving the number of counterterrorism forces on the continent over the next three years, and assigning them new missions.


Yet many counterterrorism specialists voiced concern that refocusing resources and political capital could go too far and give violent extremists time and space to regroup and rebound — much as the Islamic State did in 2013, emerging from the ashes of al-Qaida in Iraq.


“Terrorist networks have spread,” said Christopher P. Costa, a former senior director for counterterrorism to President Donald Trump’s National Security Council.

“I fear that without continuing counterterrorism pressure, where there are ungoverned spaces used as sanctuaries, there will be resurgent threats,” said Costa, now executive director of the International Spy Museum in Washington.



A Baby Bust, Rooted in Economic Insecurity 美國少子化 原因在經濟
文/Claire Cain Miller

Americans are having fewer babies. At first, researchers thought the declining fertility rate was because of the recession, but it kept falling even as the economy recovered. Now it has reached a record low for the second consecutive year.


Because the fertility rate subtly shapes many major issues of the day — including immigration, education, housing, the labor supply, the social safety net and support for working families — there’s a lot of concern about why today’s young adults aren’t having as many children. So we asked them.


Wanting more leisure time and personal freedom; not having a partner yet; not being able to afford child-care costs — these were the top reasons young adults gave for not wanting or not being sure they wanted children, according to a new survey conducted by Morning Consult for The New York Times.


About a quarter of the respondents who had children or planned to said they had fewer or expected to have fewer than they wanted. The largest shares said they delayed or stopped having children because of concerns about having enough time or money.


The survey, one of the most comprehensive explorations of the reasons that adults are having fewer children, tells a story that is partly about greater gender equality. Women have more agency over their lives, and many feel that motherhood has become more of a choice.


But it’s also a story of economic insecurity. Young people have record student debt, many graduated in a recession and many can’t afford homes — all as parenthood has become more expensive. Women in particular pay an earnings penalty for having children.


“We want to invest more in each child to give them the best opportunities to compete in an increasingly unequal environment,” said Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland who studies families and has written about fertility.


At the same time, he said, “There is no getting around the fact that the relationship between gender equality and fertility is very strong: There are no high-fertility countries that are gender equal.”


The vast majority of women in the United States still have children. But the most commonly used measure of fertility, the number of births for every 1,000 women of childbearing age, was 60.2 last year, a record low. The total fertility rate — which estimates how many children women will have based on current patterns — is down to 1.8, below the replacement level in developed countries of 2.1.


The United States seems to have almost caught up with most of the rest of the industrialized world’s low fertility rates.




本文討論美國生育率持續下降的原因。總和生育率(total fertility rate),簡稱生育率(fertility rate),反映婦女一生中生育子女的總數,出生率(birth rate)則是每千人中新生人口的數目。

人口成長最重要的單一因素是生育率,一個區域的人口在沒有移出(emigration)或移入(immigration)的情況下,若要保持穩定,總生育率必須達到2.1,亦即每個育齡婦女都生2.1個孩子,總生育率2.1就是能讓人口不增不減的替代水準(replacement level)。

追蹤生育率可以更有效地分配資源。如果一國的生育率不尋常地維持在高檔,可能須增設學校或加強平價托兒服務。這種情況發生在二戰後美國的嬰兒潮(baby boom)時代,當時總生育率來到3.8。反之,如果總生育率維持在低檔,意味人口迅速老化,醫療和社會安全支出可能會給經濟帶來過多負擔(undue burden)。

與生育率有關的政府政策可能採直接或間接形式。直接的就是給予減稅優惠(tax break)或生育獎勵(childbearing incentives),間接政策針對其他目標,但會在無意中影響生育率,譬如修改有關產假(maternity leave)和陪產假(paternity leave)的規定。不過,其實很少有政策能扭轉總生育率低落的情況。


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