Five Best Wednesday Columns

Hadley Freeman on the Chelsea Clinton pregnancy conspiracies, Dana Milbank on NASA's budget problem, James Copnall on South Sudan's most recent massacre, Reihan Salam on why it's racist to date only people of your own race, Doyle McManus on one year after the Bangladesh garment factory disaster. 

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Hadley Freeman at The Guardian on the Chelsea Clinton pregnancy conspiracies. “Exciting news from the American political scene: birtherism is back! No, not birtherism as in the nonsensical conspiracy theory about Barack Obama actually being born in Kenya. I'm talking about the all new, all shiny 2014 birtherism: Clinton birtherism!” Freeman writes. “First came the inevitable weirdy-weirdos who are so incapable of thinking about anything other than women's reproductive organs for more than two seconds that they managed to turn Clinton's birth announcement into a debate about abortion. Next came the new birthers who saw not the happy miracle of life but mere campaigning. But by far the biggest debate is this: can Hillary Clinton run for president AND be a grandmother?” Alexandra Le Tellier at The Los Angeles Times tweets, “Ugh, birthers. Give your @ChelseaClinton conspiracies a rest.”

Dana Milbank at The Washington Post on NASA’s budget problem. “NASA just confirmed what sci-fi enthusiasts have known all along: There are other civilizations out there. This bombshell was dropped Tuesday by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at the Humans 2 Mars Summit in Foggy Bottom. But listening to Bolden and other NASA officials at the Mars summit, I wondered if their ambitions were proceeding at warp speed relative to realities here on Earth,” Milbank writes. “Budget realities require a modest approach to human space exploration and not an Apollo-style moonshot. Bolden said he would “get down on my hands and knees and beg and plead” with Congress to support human space exploration. But begging does not a Mars mission make — particularly when NASA can arguably do more with unmanned exploration.” Space industry analyst Jeff Foust tweets, “NASA admin. Bolden's #H2M talk didn't go over well with columnists from the Post and Bloomberg”.

James Copnall at Al Jazeera South Sudan’s most recent massacre.“Corpses lining Bentiu's main road, piles of lifeless figures outside a mosque, so many dead bodies they have to be removed in the jaws of a bulldozer. The images from Bentiu are deeply disturbing. What happened in Bentiu is only one in a long series of massacres, not just committed during this four-month-old war, but stretching back decades into South Sudan's troubled history,” Copnall writes. “Every war has massacres, of course, but South Sudan's own history is full of them. South Sudan's own national narrative is in part constructed through common revulsion at abuses carried out by Arab slave traders, Ottoman officials, brutal British "pacification" campaigns, and attacks carried out by Sudanese soldiers and allied militias during the two north-south civil wars that preceded South Sudan's independence.” Sociologist Dimitris Stefosis tweets, “'#Bentiu massacre one in a series in #SouthSudan's troubled history' says @JamesCopnall”.

Reihan Salam at Slate on why it’s racist to date only people of your own race. “Questions are an important part of what makes OkCupid work. One of OkCupid’s questions reads as follows: “Would you strongly prefer to go out with someone of your own skin color/racial background?” I was struck by the not inconsiderable number of people who answered “yes”—including some people I know “in real life,” many of whom are hilariously self-righteous about their enlightened political views,” Salam writes. “Is a strong same-race preference something one ought to be ashamed of? Or is it enough to say that the heart wants what it wants and to leave it at that? This is a more important question than you might think.” Campus Reform’s Kaitlyn Schallhorn tweets, “To the stranger who emailed me saying I should try this sometime: thanks.” The New Republic’s Danny Vinik tweets, “.@reihan with an interesting column on inter-race dating and racial inequality”.

Doyle McManus at The Los Angeles Times on one year after the Bangladesh garment factory disaster. “One year ago this week, the eight-story Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh's capital city of Dhaka, killing 1,129 people. It was the worst disaster in garment industry history. In the year since Rana Plaza, inspectors commissioned by U.S. and European clothing companies have scoured Dhaka. What they found was alarming: More shoddy high rises in danger of collapse. Exits blocked with chains and steel bars,” McManus writes. “Facing the likelihood of more disasters, a few American companies have pulled out of Bangladesh; others have cut their production, restricting it to a few modern facilities. For labor conditions in Bangladesh to improve, consumers and retailers will need to remember the Rana Plaza disaster not just on its first anniversary but for years after that.”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.