Top 4 Political Stories of the Day

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President Barack Obama and other top administration officials rallied around Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday after former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates criticized him sharply in a memoir. Gates, who led the Pentagon from 2006 to 2011 under Republican President George W. Bush and then Obama, said in his book, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War," that Biden had been "wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." The comments, reported in media accounts about the book, were especially stinging about a man who has made foreign policy a large part of his portfolio as Obama's No. 2. The White House said on Tuesday that the president did not share Gates' assessment of Biden. On Wednesday, in what appeared to be a deliberate show of support, Obama had lunch with Biden in a dining room near the Oval Office and invited photographers to take pictures of the event.
Turkey's deputy police chief has been fired--the most senior commander yet. The officer was targeted in a purge of a police force heavily influenced by a cleric who is accused by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of plotting to seize the levers of state power. Erdogan's AK Party, meanwhile, submitted plans to parliament to allow government to have more say over the naming of prosecutors and judges. Erdogan argues that the judiciary and the police are in the sway of the "Hizmet" (or "Service") movement of cleric Fethullah Gulen, which contrived the graft investigation that is now shaking his administration.
China took its propaganda war with Japan to the United Nations on Wednesday, questioning Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's motives for visiting a controversial war shrine and calling on him to correct his "erroneous outlook" on history, despite Abe's insistence that he meant no offense by his visit: Abe's December 26th visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals are enshrined along with other war dead, infuriated China and South Korea, and prompted concern from the United States--a key ally.
More than 10,000 African migrants demonstrated outside Israel's parliament on Wednesday, extending protests into a fourth consecutive day in a quest for recognition as refugees and freedom to work legally without fear of incarceration. Their presence in a Jewish state that took in survivors of the Nazi Holocaust of World War II has stoked an emotional political debate over whether they should be allowed to stay as a humane gesture. "I want to say to them that they should not fear us, we are human beings too," a tall, slim 25-year-old man from Eritrea, who gave his name only as Mulugieta, told Reuters. Some 60,000 migrants, largely from Eritrea and Sudan, have entered Israel without authorization across a once-porous border with Egypt since 2006. Many hope for asylum and say they cannot return home without risking their lives.

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