News & Politics
The Week Magazine

The Week Magazine September 27, 2019

The Week makes sense of the news by curating the best of the U.S. and international media into a succinct, lively digest.

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48 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
editor’s letter

Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s best-equipped militaries. The kingdom spends a whopping $68 billion a year on its armed forces—only the U.S. and China have bigger defense budgets—and has splashed some $6 billion on U.S.-made Patriot missile defense systems in recent years. But all that expensive hardware failed to stop a devastating blitz on the country’s oil infrastructure last week. (See Main Stories.) Suspected Iranian attackers were able to knock out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production capacity using cruise missiles and drones that may have cost $15,000 or less apiece. The missiles and drones flew close to the ground, eluding radar and warning systems that were designed primarily to spot high-flying enemy warplanes and ballistic missiles. Low-altitude drones “won’t be detected until they come close enough to…

5 min.
saudis blame iran for oil-facility attack

What happened Saudi Arabia blamed Iran this week for attacks that crippled its oil industry and threatened to plunge the Persian Gulf into war. Drone and cruise missile strikes hit two key Saudi oil facilities, temporarily shutting down half the kingdom’s production, or about 5 percent of the world’s supply. Oil prices surged 19 percent in the aftermath of the attack, the biggest one-day spike since the 1991 Gulf War. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen—who are fighting against the Saudi-backed government—initially took credit for sending the drones and missiles, and Iran denied any role. But Saudi officials said the attacks came from the north, not from Houthi-held territory to the south, and that recovered pieces of the weapons showed that they were Iranian-made. U.S. intelligence officials have also blamed Iran, with…

3 min.
a new sexual misconduct claim against kavanaugh

What happened Prominent Democrats called for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s impeachment this week after a new allegation of sexual misconduct emerged from his time at Yale University. President Trump, by contrast, branded the story a “smear” and said Kavanaugh should “start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue.” The New York Times reported that Yale classmate Max Stier told the FBI he saw Kavanaugh’s friends push his penis into a female student’s hand at a “drunken dorm party.” Stier’s account echoes that of Deborah Ramirez, another Yale classmate who said Kavanaugh thrust his penis at her during another college party. A third woman, Christine Blasey Ford, has accused Kavanaugh of pinning her to a bed and tearing at her clothes in high school. Sens.…

1 min.
it wasn’t all bad

The extreme devastation wreaked by Hurricane Dorian on the Bahamas has inspired an extraordinary act of generosity. Not long after images of the flattened Grand Bahama and Abaco islands began reaching the U.S., a farmer walked into a Florida Costco and bought 100 generators at $450 a pop, as well as a pile of food and other supplies. Those lifesaving goods are now being transported to the hurricane-battered Bahamas by boat. “You see a need,” said the farmer, who wants to remain anonymous, “and you fill it.” An American cancer survivor made history this week by becoming the first person to swim the English Channel four times nonstop. Sarah Thomas, 37, set off from Dover in the middle of the night and—powered by protein and electrolyte drinks and M&Ms, her favorite…

3 min.
biden vs. warren: who’s more electable?

The Democrats are facing a real dilemma, said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com. What if the party’s choice for a presidential nominee comes down to an extreme liberal who’s engaged in a “race to the left” to win over 20-something activists and a fumbling 76-year-old who looks “too old to handle the awesome task before him”? At last week’s Democratic debate in Houston, front-runner Joe Biden was initially vigorous, but as the night dragged on, his rambling answers became increasingly incoherent—even cringe-worthy. In a response to a question about the legacy of slavery, he urged black parents, “make sure you have the record player on at night.” Unfortunately, Biden is blocking any other center-left Democrat like Kamala Harris or Amy Klobuchar from getting traction. Meanwhile, rising star Sen. Elizabeth Warren is…

1 min.
good week/bad week

Good week for: Sending in the clowns, after a New Zealand man brought an “emotional support clown” to a meeting where he was fired. The clown mimed crying and made balloon animals to lighten the mood, and Joshua Jack said that, aside from losing his job, “it was all smooth running.” A dish served cold, with reports that John Bolton, whom President Trump forced out as national security adviser last week, has already contacted literary agents about writing a memoir of his time in the White House. “He has a lot to dish,” a source said. A flicker of self-awareness, after President Trump explained his opposition to eco-friendly LED lightbulbs by claiming that in the “not good” light they emit, “I always look orange.” Bad week for: America, home to the highest proportion of climate-change…