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Top 4 Political Stories of the Day

The defense chiefs of China and the U.S. faced off over Beijing's escalating territorial disputes in the region, with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel telling his Chinese counterparts they do not have the right to unilaterally establish an air defense zone over disputed islands with no consultation. And he said America will protect Japan, the Philippines and other allies locked in disputes with China, as laid out in U.S. treaty obligations. Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan said his country will not take the initiative to stir up troubles with Japan, but warned that Beijing is ready to use its military if needed to safeguard its territory. France said on Tuesday Syrian President Bashar al Assad had a policy to "wipe out" his people in his bid to stamp out a three-year uprising, but this would leave Syria at a total impasse. Responding to those remarks, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal appeared to acknowledge that the international community may have to accept the new status quo. France, one of Assad's fiercest critics, was the first Western power to provide non-lethal military aid to rebels who have fought to overthrow him. The Syrian government made clear on Tuesday it had no intention of delaying an election that is likely to hand Assad a third term, regardless of war or politics. Ukraine's government struggled to stay in control of the country's eastern regions as tensions flared Tuesday in three cities. While the government managed to recapture its regional headquarters and detain dozens of pro-Russian protesters in one city, it said "radicals" were keeping 60 people hostage and threatening them in another city. In a statement released Tuesday, the Ukrainian Security Service said unknown "separatists" brandishing arms and explosives were threatening the hostages inside a security service branch in the city of Luhansk. It was not clear who the hostages were or if they were security service employees. With midterm elections looming, Democrats are pitching themselves as the party of fairness for one of their key voting blocs: women. “When women succeed, America succeeds,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday in remarks to commemorate Equal Pay Day and urge Congress to pass more legislation to close the pay gender gap. Democrats cite data that has found that the real median earnings of men and women who work full-time and year-round for the same amount of time show a female-to-male earnings ratio of 0.77, or 77 cents on the dollar.

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