Today's Papers

Evolutionary Psych Job

USA Today

leads with the Clinton administration’s plans to announce Friday that it is easing the ban on Iranian imports the U.S. has had in place since 1987, permitting Americans to buy Iranian carpets, caviar, and pistachios. (Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that this was under consideration.) The paper quotes government officials as saying the aim is to encourage resurgent Iranian reformers. The Washington Post and New York Times lead with President Clinton’s decision to support Germany’s second candidate for becoming the new head of the International Monetary Fund, a man supported by every member of the EU, after Clinton said the first candidate was unqualified. The move ends what both papers depict as a period of U.S.-European diplomatic tension over the organization’s leadership. The LAT front is dominated by local news, with the highest-placed national news story being a study purporting to show that an alarming proportion of American men are “dangerously out of touch” with the health-care system, failing to get routine checkups and delaying care even for potentially life-threatening conditions. One-third of all men have no regular personal physician compared to one-fifth of all women.

The WP runs a brief item inside pointing out that the U.S. is extending the ban on U.S. companies getting involved with Iranian oil projects, and while the paper mentions the LAT’s prior report that the other sanctions might be overturned, it doesn’t affirm it. On the other hand, the USAT lead doesn’t mention the continuance of the oil ban until the 10th paragraph. The NYT reefers other Iran news: One day after a leading reformist was seriously wounded in a shooting on a Tehran street, the city was hit by several mortar shells landing in a neighborhood next to a military base. An Iraq-based leftist group claimed responsibility for this attack.

The survey reported on by the LAT suggests that physicians are partly to blame for the gender imbalance detected, for frequently failing to counsel male patients on preventative health measures. Although the story doesn’t say, presumably it’s male physicians who fail this way, which leads to Today’s Papers’ advice to men on this problem: Get yourself a nice female doctor. You’ll go more often, and you’ll probably drop a few pounds first too.

Two unpickupable political stories make the fronts today: 1) USAT runs the results of a new poll showing “BUSH HAS EARLY JUMP ON GORE.” The numbers? Forty-nine percent to 43 percent among likely voters in a poll with a margin of error of 4 percentage points. 2) The WP’s David Broder checks in on the presidential candidates’ prospects under the headline, “HEARTLAND MAY HOLD THE KEY.” This assessment, the story further explains, “can be dramatically altered by future developments.”

Yesterday’s LAT story about the acquisition of the paper’s parent company by the parent company of the Chicago Tribune said it was a $6.46 billion deal. Today’s NYT says $6.45 billion, while the WSJ says $5.9 billion and the WP says $8 billion.

A NYT front-pager describes a perfectly legal but new wrinkle in ways to try to influence President Clinton: Raise money for Hillary’s campaign. The paper’s example is that a group of Pakistani-Americans urging President Clinton to visit Pakistan on his upcoming trip to South Asia held a fund-raising dinner that produced $50,000 for HRC’s coffers. And at the dinner, she said that she hoped that the president would indeed make a Pakistan stop. A White House spokesman quoted in the story gives the current interpretation of “Buy One, Get One Free”: “The first lady’s views were not part of the decision-making process.”

A lengthy inside Times effort tries to explain evolutionary psychology, the loose body of theories seeking to explain a wide array of human thinking in terms of long-term adaptation strategies. There’s much of interest here, but a serious omission as well. Nowhere does the story mention Professor Kevin MacDonald, a self-proclaimed adherent, who testified for the plaintiff in the British Holocaust libel case and who, Slate’s Judith Shulevitz has argued, represents “the broadest, ugliest, and most vicious anti-Semitism passing for scholarship in this country today.”

The WP’s entertaining magazine reporter Peter Carlson checks out the current issue of Chile Pepper magazine to review a story that suggests you can explain world politics in terms of spices. For instance, says the piece, political scientists are only now beginning to understand the sociological insurrection represented by the American populace’s recent switch from ketchup to salsa. And spice-favoring nations like China and India have volatile politics, while bland-eating spots like England and Switzerland have stable politics. Carlson finds this reasonably plausible, but he arches an eyebrow about the magazine’s claim that the author is an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy whose current location is classified. Well, Today’s Papers doesn’t know much about food, but can help here–it recognizes the name as that of a man that TP was in the Navy with more than 20 years ago.