Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "What is art?," March 20, 2004

CHINA The United States reported its largest trade deficit ever, fueled by growing petroleum imports but also by a widening trade imbalance with China. The U.S. trade deficit with China expanded to $11.5 billion in January, up from $10 billion in December. But China has a trade deficit of its own. Imports rose 77 percent in China from January to February, while exports rose a "mere" 40 percent. The percentages reflect China's roller-coaster economy; its export-driven market must gobble increasing amounts of imported raw materials.

China's quest for raw material includes sensitive technology. Celebrated Christian human-rights activist Gao Zhan will go to prison in the United States after she pleaded guilty to selling illegally more than $500,000 worth of militarily sensitive semiconductors and other computer parts.

"The lack of discretion in my past deeds doesn't mean that I have lost the moral high ground in my advocacy for democracy in China," she said in a statement (story, p. 27).

POLITICS Well-funded liberal groups, intent on electing John Kerry to the White House, have begun multimillion-dollar ad campaigns attacking President Bush. The Bush legal team, meanwhile, is urging the Federal Election Commission to impose "severe sanctions" against the groups for violating the McCain-Feingold law's limits on soft money donations to political campaigns. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a leading proponent of campaign-finance regulations, calls the ad campaign a "blatant end run around the campaign-finance laws" (story, p. 28).

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