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Brexit sparks boom in applications for politics courses



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The country remains deeply divided over the likely impact of Brexit, but one clear winner has already emerged – politics departments at universities.

There has been a 28% surge in applications to politics courses since the debate about Europe took off in the run-up to the 2016 referendum.

Applications went up by from 34,275 in 2013 to 47,445 in 2018 – according to the UCAS, which oversees admissions.

Liverpool University has trebled the size of its politics department.

That trend is largely reflected at institutions across the country and the number of students accepted on to politics courses in the five years to 2018 rose by 27% to 7,990, according to UCAS.

Liverpool University politics lecturer Jon Tonge says that other dramatic political events, such as the Scottish independence referendum and the 2015 general election, have also boosted applications.

And the fierce, often toxic, nature of the debate on social media has also captured the attention of young people, he said.

“It is a terrible thing to say, but the more unhealthy and divisive the debate is, the better it is for politics departments in terms of bums on seats,” said Prof Tonge.

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It is all a far cry from the Blair years, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, dubbed the “tranquil age of politics” by Prof Tonge, when “consensus” reigned and politics courses were “not recruiting in huge numbers”.

Christopher Massey, a lecturer at Teesside University, which has just launched a BA (Hons) course in politics, agrees that Brexit has had a big impact on student numbers but Donald Trump’s presidency and protest movements such as Extinction Rebellion have also played a part.

“You cannot avoid politics now – it has even ousted celebrity culture in the news headlines, as something that shapes their lives,” he says.

‘I enjoy the drama’

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Jake Wilson

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Ted Hollas and Harry Souter are hoping to study politics at university

Ted Hollas and Harry Souter are A-level politics students at York College and both are hoping to study the subject at university.

Ted, 17, who describes himself as “right wing, but socially liberal”, said: “I hear people saying they are so bored with Brexit but I am really interested in it. I follow every twist of it in Parliament and I enjoy the drama.

“I would like a career in politics. I want to get try to get in there and make a difference.

“I imagine its is very intimidating, and a lot of pressure, but I am not going to let that put me off.”

Harry, 18, a self-described left-winger, said: “I got interested in politics through social media.

“When Brexit and Trump being elected happened there was so much more discourse about politics. Because people have such strong opinions you end up getting into it more. It feels more important.

“I like to know what I am talking about and studying politics helps with that. It is rewarding to be able to have a discussion with somebody and explain how you feel.”

Tim Evans, professor of business and political economy at Middlesex University, says politics is a lot less predictable – and lot “messier” – than it used to be, and students do not fit neatly into categories like Leave and Remain.

“I think it’s the most exciting time to study and to teach politics since the rise of the libertarian right in the 1980s and the collapse of the Soviet Union,” he says.

But like other academics he is at pains to stress that Brexit is not the only game in town. Students are also looking to the global picture and issues such as climate change and artificial intelligence.

Robert Lamb, head of politics at Exeter University, says: “Our students have chosen to study politics because they are increasingly desperate to make sense of the tumultuous and bewildering times in which they live.”

Others see Brexit as a narrow, parochial issue which can put young people off politics.

“The increase in interest in studying politics should not be seen only as a result of dramatic developments in British politics around Brexit but wider shifts in global politics,” says Dibyesh Anand, Professor of International Relations and Head of the School of Social Sciences, at Westminster University.

“In fact, in our case, a very diverse student body has meant relatively tepid interest in British politics but a high interest in politics beyond Britain as well as international relations.

“To an extent, this could also illustrate a challenge British politics faces – it remains dominated by white men – and students from BME background, especially women, do not feel it is welcoming of them.”


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House releases impeachment depositions of Trump and Pence Russia advisors



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump participate in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House on November 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. During their meeting, Trump and Erdogan were scheduled to discuss Turkey’s purchase of a Russian air defense system as well as the Turkish offensive against the Kurds in Syria.

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House committees on Saturday released the closed-door transcripts of two top national security officials who listened to the July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s president which is at the center of the impeachment inquiry into Trump. 

The depositions are from National Security Council official Timothy Morrison and Jennifer Williams, a special advisor to Vice President Mike Pence for Europe and Russia.

In her deposition, Williams told the committees that she found the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to be “unusual an inappropriate.” Trump asked Zelensky on that call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Williams said that the call “shed some light on possible other motivations” for freezing nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.

“I found the specific references to be — to be more specific to the president in nature, to his personal political agenda, as opposed to a broader…foreign policy objective of the United States,” Williams said about Trump’s request for investigations.

House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry against the president over allegations that he violated his oath of office and jeopardized U.S. national security by asking a foreign leader to investigate a political rival for personal gain.

Prior to the call, Williams said she had not heard any type of conversation in the office about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election or investigating the Bidens.

Williams also said that Trump had told Pence not to attend Zelensky’s inauguration.

“My understanding from my colleague — and, again, I wasn’t there for the conversation — was that the President asked the Vice President not to attend,” she said.

Rudolph Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas had reportedly told Ukrainians that they had to investigate Biden and his son, or else Pence would not go to Zelensky’s swearing-in and the U.S. would freeze aid. That claim has been disputed.

In his testimony, Morrison said he advised lawyers on the national security council to restrict access to the written record of the call because the contents would be “damaging” if leaked. Morrison indicated that his recommendation was misinterpreted, which resulted in the call record being placed on a classified server. Nothing in the call justified moving it to a classified server, he said. The decision to move the call record to that server has led to allegations of a cover-up. 

Morrison also said he learned from U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland that the military assistance for Ukraine was being tied to Trump’s calls for investigations. According to Morrison, Sondland told an advisor to Ukraine’s president, Andriy Yermak, that publicly announcing an investigation into the gas company Burisma would help move the assistance. Hunter Biden had a seat on the board of Burisma. 

“He [Sondland] told me that in his — that what he communicated was that he believed the — what could help them move the aid was if the prosecutor general would to go the mike and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation,” Morrison said.

Morrison said he informed national security official John Bolton, the top diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor and national security council lawyers about Sondland’s conversation with Yermak. Morrison said he was concerned about Zelensky being drawn into U.S. domestic politics and American interests in Ukraine being sidetracked 


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Israel & NATO penetrate Russia’s S-400 air defenses… ‘simulated’ by US Patriots? — RT World News



Israel together with the US and several European NATO allies have wrapped up massive war games, which in part focused on countering advanced air defenses, such as Russia’s S-400, that Washington has been so worried about recently.

The Israeli Air Force hosted American, German, Italian and Greek fighter jets at its Uvda airbase in the Negev Desert located in southern Israel, for nearly two weeks between November 3 and 14. A total of 800 servicemen and around 100 aircraft took part in the ‘Blue Flag’ drills, including the stealthy F-35 fighter jets, which took part in this exercise for the first time.

Israel’s customized F-35I Adir aircraft even flew several missions as a simulated aggressor squadron, providing a “significant challenge” to the good guys, yet, it was not the only peculiar detail about the drills, described by the Israeli media as the IAF’s “most advanced” exercise.

Israeli and NATO pilots honed their skills in penetrating the enemy airspace and countering Russian-made S-300 and S-400 anti-air systems, according to IAF press release and the Breaking Defense blog.

Moscow has previously deployed such systems to Syria to defend its Khmeimim air base in Latakia and, supplied them to NATO member Turkey, and even offered them to Saudi Arabia. Washington applies extreme political and economic pressure on its ‘partners’ to force them abandon the deals with Moscow in favor of American arms.

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US discontent over Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400s is ‘sign of true competition’

Israel, however, has no easy access to real S-400, that’s why its role during the drills was played by the US-made Patriot missile batteries, “modified” to mimic the Russian-made systems.

Whether they were up to the task is another question though, as the Patriot’s characteristics do not exactly match up those of S-400. The Russian system can hit a target flying at twice the speed of a target that can be shot down by the US rival, and it can do that at a longer distance and higher altitude, depending on the interceptor missile.

READ MORE: US official brags that American weapons will bring you the magic of friendship, especially if you ditch Russian and Chinese arms

The Patriots also demonstrated questionable real combat effectiveness just recently, when these systems spectacularly failed to defend Washington’s Saudi allies against a drone attack on its oil facilities. The embarrassing episode forced the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to amend the sales pitch, saying that even the world’s “finest” air defense systems sometimes simply do not “pick things up.”

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New sales pitch? US makes the world’s ‘finest’ anti-air systems, but sometimes they just don’t work, Pompeo explains

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Preview: Tonight’s Runoff in the South



The Times will have live elections results for the Louisiana governor’s race and other contests on Saturday, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern. They’ll include detailed maps showing the results by voting precinct.

Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, a Democrat, faces a challenge from Eddie Rispone, a Republican and a Baton Rouge businessman who has made his campaign largely about aligning himself with President Trump and his policies.

Saturday’s election will be a test of Mr. Trump’s influence with voters, and the president held another rally for Mr. Rispone on Thursday night.

About 490,000 people in the state have already voted early, which is about 100,000 more early votes than were cast in last month’s nonpartisan primary. Mr. Edwards received 47 percent of the vote in the primary, while his three Republican opponents together received 52 percent of the vote.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, with first results expected shortly afterward. Other races include secretary of state and a seat on the state Supreme Court.


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