The White House(QUONSET POINT, R.I.) — First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters, Sasha and Malia, sponsored one of the country’s newest submarines, the USS Illinois, on Monday.

In a trip to Rhode Island, Michelle Obama said she “couldn’t be more proud” to have her daughters join her to “serve as maids of honor for this vessel.” The first lady was present on Monday for the keel laying ceremony for the USS Illinois. Sasha and Malia Obama were not in attendance, because they “had tests to take,” said the First Lady.

Michelle Obama heaped praise on the U.S. Navy, the shipbuilders, the crewmembers and their families. “You’re going to be pouring your heart and soul into this vessel, you’ll be pulling all-night shifts…and you’ll be creating one of the finest, most state-of-the-art submarines we have ever seen,” she said at the ceremony.

The first lady did tell those in attendance that it is “important to remind ourselves why we’re building this new submarine now.” She said that while the “war in Iraq is over,” and “our war in Afghanistan will be over by the end of the year,” it is important to know that “the work of keeping our country safe and secure will never be over. And our Navy is a daily testament to that truth.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court ruled in favor Monday of a woman who had been prosecuted for poisoning her husband’s lover under a federal law aimed at deterring chemical weapons.

When Carol Anne Bond learned her husband was the father of her best friend’s baby in 2006, she took matters into her own hands. Using her background as a microbiologist, she attempted to poison her friend, Myrlinda Haynes. Bond used a combination of chemicals that she stole from her boss and bought on the Internet.

Throughout the ordeal, Haynes’ worst injury was a thumb burn.

Bond, however, was prosecuted under the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act, a federal law that was passed to comply with a Chemical Weapons Convention treaty. The law forbids any person knowingly to “develop, produce, otherwise acquire” any chemical weapon.

On Monday, a unanimous Supreme Court threw out the conviction.

Chief Justice John Roberts said that the law “does not cover the unremarkable local offense” at issue in the Bond case.

Roberts said that state laws would have been sufficient to prosecute Bond and that the “the global need to prevent chemical warfare does not require the Federal Government to reach into the kitchen cupboard, or to treat a local assault with a chemical irritant as the deployment of a chemical weapon. There is no reason to suppose that Congress — in implementing the Convention on Chemical Weapons — thought otherwise.”

Roberts began his opinion with the background of the law that was passed to fulfill the United States’ obligation under the Convention on Chemical Weapons.

He described the 1919 John Singer Sargent painting that captures the “horrors of chemical warfare” and said “the nearly life-sized work depicts two lines of soldiers, blinded by mustard gas, clinging single file to orderlies guiding them to an improvised aid station.”

Roberts wrote the painting reflects the devastation that Sargent witnessed in the aftermath of the Second Battle of Arras during World War I and reiterated that the battle, like others, “led to an overwhelming consensus in the international community that toxic chemicals should never again be used as weapons against human beings.”

But Roberts said the question in the Bond case is whether the law that implements the treaty also reaches a “purely local” crime. He described Bond’s crime as “an amateur attempt by a jilted wife to injure her husband’s lover, which ended up causing only a minor thumb burn readily treated by rinsing with water.”

“There is no reason to think the sovereign nations that ratified the Convention were interested in anything like Bond’s common law assault,” Roberts wrote.

Roberts criticized the government’s reading of the law saying that the chemicals used in the Bond case were not the sort that an ordinary person would associate with instruments of chemical warfare.

“We are reluctant to ignore the ordinary meaning of ‘chemical weapon’ when doing so would transform a statute passed to implement the international Convention on Chemical Weapons into one that also makes it a federal offense to poison goldfish,” he said.

Roberts closed the opinion by saying “there are no life-sized paintings of Bond’s rival washing her thumb. And there are no apparent interests of the United States Congress or the community of nations in seeing Bond end up in federal prison, rather than dealt with (like virtually all other criminals in Pennsylvania) by the state.”

The chief justice was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama should choose a post-9/11 vet, or at least someone “extremely familiar” with the community, to replace Eric Shinseki as Veterans Affairs secretary, a veterans advocacy group insisted Monday.

“We are the growing need. We are the future,” Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) CEO Paul Rieckhoff said. “We’re not a problem, we are the solution.”

A post-9/11 vet with a thorough understanding of technology could “turn the VA from Borders into Amazon,” better serving the growing number of vets struggling with complex injuries such as traumatic brain injury, he said.

The 200,000-member organization in its 10th year outlined an 8-point plan on Monday to help get the beleaguered VA back on track.

In addition to seeking leadership, Rieckhoff said the VA’s current IT system — which includes the scandal-plagued scheduling system that left veterans waiting months for appointments — is “woefully outdated.”

“And the backlog itself is scandalous,” he continued. “The fact that it got that bad and took that much to get the country to act is, in our opinion, scandalous as well.”

Rieckhoff, himself a veteran of the Iraq war, called for increased presidential leadership, and criticized Obama for his “slow response” to the wait time scandal, which surfaced weeks ago when a whistle-blower alleged that hospital executives had been cooking the books to maintain a façade of efficiency.

“It shouldn’t have taken four weeks for the president to respond,” Rieckhoff said. “”People knew this was going on. If you weren’t outraged, you weren’t paying attention.”

Marine Corporal Aaron Mankin, who was severely wounded by an improvised explosive device in Iraq, joined Rieckhoff in saying that in addition to Congress and the president acting, responsibility also lands on the American people.

“Everywhere I go, people want to tell me, ‘Thank you, thank you for your service.’ They want to shake my hand and hug my neck or buy me a beer,” Mankin said. “The time for saying thank you has passed. The time of being thankful is now….And we need the American people in a way that maybe we never have before.”

For Rieckhoff and Mankin, the systemic failure of the VA has been one of the most troubling.

Rieckhoff also demanded a full criminal investigation, saying those who broke the law by falsifying records should “be rooted out…and brought to justice” where warranted. He also urged Congress to pass the VA Management and Accountability Act, which would allow the VA secretary to fire employees.

As for Shinseki, “It was clear that Secretary Shinseki had to go, and we salute his service….But now we’ve got a new challenge before us,” Rieckhoff said. “America is finally paying attention…[but] we’re very concerned that the country’s going to turn the page.”

Bowe Bergdahl, the American prisoner of war who was recovered from the Taliban in exchange for five Guantanamo Bay prisoners Saturday, was welcomed to join the organization and welcomed home by his fellow service members.

“We’re happy he’s home,” Rieckhoff said. ”We’re happy America stands by its own — and now America’s got to stand by its own again, once they come home. You know, Bowe Bergdahl’s probably going to go get services at the VA. He needs to know that the VA’s going to be there.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

BananaStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) — The Seattle City Council unanimously voted in favor of a $15 per hour minimum wage on Sunday, marking the most significant step taken by any city in America to address income inequality.

The legislation goes into effect on April 1, 2015, and will gradually increase the city’s minimum wage over a span of three to seven years, depending largely on the size of the specific employer. The city’s current minimum wage is $9.32 per hour. Within seven years, then, the city’s minimum wage will reach $15, well above the $10.10 that President Obama has stated support for and put into effect for federal employees.

Councilmember Sally Clark, chair of the City Council’s Select Committee on the Minimum Wage and Income Inequality, said that Sunday was the day Seattle would “answer President Obama’s call and the moral call to address the plight of low wage workers.”

The initial proposal was developed by a stakeholder group, which included representatives from Seattle’s business, labor and non-profit communities, as well as three councilmembers. It was then forwarded by Mayor Ed Murray to the City Council.

According to the City Council, 24 percent of Seattle residents currently make less than $15 per hour. Additionally, 13.6 percent of the Seattle community lives below the federal poverty level, according to a study done by the University of Washington.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Monday pushed back against critics of his plan to dramatically cut U.S. carbon emissions, telling supporters it’s necessary to confront a looming threat to “this beautiful blue ball in the middle of space that we’re a part of.”

“Climate change is real. It has impacts not just in a distant future. It has serious impacts as we speak,” the president said during a conference call with public health advocates and other environmental supporters of the new proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations aimed at curbing carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Opponents of the policy — both Republican and Democrat — have variously voiced skepticism of a human role in climate change, the costs of such change and concern about harm to the U.S. economy by unilaterally imposing new restrictions on American energy companies.

House Speaker John Boehner on Monday called Obama’s plan “nuts.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called it a “dagger in the heart of the middle class.” Some congressmen of both parties vowed to enact legislation to block the EPA regulations.

The president however was undeterred, asserting his executive authority and arguing that the new standards “are going to help us leave our children a safer and more stable world.”

There will always be “naysayers who said this is going to destroy jobs and destroy industry,” Obama said. “You will hear from critics who say the same thing they always say, that these guidelines will kill jobs, or crush the economy. What we’ve seen every time is that these claims are debunked when you actually give workers and businesses the tools and the incentive they need to innovate.”

With political and legal fights against the EPA on the horizon, Obama told his army of environmental activists to counter efforts to make sure that “spin overwhelms substance, and that PR overwhelms science.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Obama has declared an “urgent humanitarian situation” along the southwest U.S. border after a sudden surge of hundreds of unaccompanied, undocumented children flowing into the country in the past month.

The declaration, made Monday in a presidential memorandum, directs federal agencies to coordinate an emergency response to the situation and provide the children with medical care, housing and transportation.

The White House has appointed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Craig Fugate to lead the effort.

While the number of children crossing the border illegally has steadily been on the rise in recent years, it spiked in the past month — up 90 percent from this time last year, said White House domestic policy director Cecilia Munoz.

Officials said more of the children detained are girls, and more are younger than 13, compared with last year. Most crossed into the U.S. through the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. They are predominantly from Central American countries where economic conditions, sustained violence and a desire to reunite with their parents in the U.S. have driven them northward, Munoz said.

Once they are detained along the border, Homeland Security officials are required under federal law to transfer the minors to the custody of Health and Human Services within 72 hours.

HHS says that for the past two weeks, more than 1,000 children have been housed at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio. ABC News’ Luis Martinez reports the Department of Defense has approved the use of another military facility — Naval Base Ventura County in Oxnard, California — for an additional 600 children. It is not yet operational.

Officials said the military would have no role in caring for or handling the children aside from making facilities available.

The Obama administration has asked Congress for an additional $1.4 billion to process and care for the kids. The Office of Management and Budget anticipates the federal government will spend $2.28 billion this year handling the situation.

Officials said the average stay in an HHS facility is 30-45 days before the child is released to a parent, relative or other sponsor.

“The law does not allow expedited removal of children from non-contiguous countries,” Munoz said. “Our primary mission…is to make sure they’re returned to the best” situation.

The children remain in so-called “removal proceedings” even if they are released.

“The immigration process does not stop when reunited with family members,” she said.

Officials said they are working with the governments of Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador to “spread the word” against travel to the U.S., including distribution of public service announcements raising awareness of the perils.

Department of Homeland Security officials said they would later provide total figures for the number of immigrant children who have crossed the border in recent months, and are or have been in U.S. custody.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(PRINCETON, N.J.) — In his keynote address at Princeton University’s class day Monday, former vice president — and environmental crusader — Al Gore lauded President Obama’s proposal for new Environmental Protection Agency regulations that would require the reduction of carbon emissions from coal plants by 30 percent by 2030.

“That’s really good news. It’s particularly important not because of the actual reduction that will come from this country alone,” but because it can serve as an effort to “secure a global agreement wherein all nations will agree to take the kinds of steps that our nation agreed to take today,” Gore told his audience.

He said the proposal “re-establishes the moral authority on the part of the United States of America in leading the world community.”

Gore pointed out that even though the Obama administration’s proposal is a step in the right direction, “Today something else happened that was not as noticed. We put another 98 million tons of global harming pollution into the atmosphere surrounding our planet. That global warming pollution is trapping a lot of heat,” and “giving the Earth a fever.”

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate compared the fight against global warming to the fight against apartheid in South Africa. He said that he was a student nominee for the board at Harvard “during the struggle against apartheid and it took some time, but over time it was seen as the right thing to do.”

“When the conversation was won, the laws changed,” Gore said.

“We’re winning that conversation and we got ways to go,” he said, urging his audience to be part of the revolution against climate change and pointing out the power of individuals to induce change.

After taking “their time to get a quality education and get skills,” Gore told the graduates that they are now able to change the world.

The fact “that the world has resisted change thus far is of no import,” the former vice president argued, quoting the poet Wallace Stevens: “After the last no comes a yes. And on that yes the future of the world depends.”

“When people gather here a decade from now and hear that this year’s class is the greatest class ever,” Gore said, they will either ask “why didn’t you act?” or “how did you find the moral courage…to make changes that were so essential?”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court ruled in favor Monday of a woman who had been prosecuted for poisoning her husband’s lover under a federal law aimed at deterring chemical weapons.

When Carol Anne Bond learned her husband was the father of her best friend’s baby in 2006, she took matters into her own hands. Using her background as a microbiologist, she attempted to poison her friend, Myrlinda Haynes. Bond used a combination of chemicals that she stole from her boss and bought on the Internet.

Throughout the ordeal, Haynes’ worst injury was a thumb burn.

Bond, however, was prosecuted under the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act, a federal law that was passed to comply with a Chemical Weapons Convention treaty. The law forbids any person knowingly to “develop, produce, otherwise acquire” any chemical weapon.

On Monday, a unanimous Supreme Court threw out the conviction.

Chief Justice John Roberts said that the law “does not cover the unremarkable local offense” at issue in the Bond case.

Roberts said that state laws would have been sufficient to prosecute Bond and that the “the global need to prevent chemical warfare does not require the Federal Government to reach into the kitchen cupboard, or to treat a local assault with a chemical irritant as the deployment of a chemical weapon. There is no reason to suppose that Congress — in implementing the Convention on Chemical Weapons — thought otherwise.”

Roberts began his opinion with the background of the law that was passed to fulfill the United States’ obligation under the Convention on Chemical Weapons.

He described the 1919 John Singer Sargent painting that captures the “horrors of chemical warfare” and said “the nearly life-sized work depicts two lines of soldiers, blinded by mustard gas, clinging single file to orderlies guiding them to an improvised aid station.”

Roberts wrote the painting reflects the devastation that Sargent witnessed in the aftermath of the Second Battle of Arras during World War I and reiterated that the battle, like others, “led to an overwhelming consensus in the international community that toxic chemicals should never again be used as weapons against human beings.”

But Roberts said the question in the Bond case is whether the law that implements the treaty also reaches a “purely local” crime. He described Bond’s crime as “an amateur attempt by a jilted wife to injure her husband’s lover, which ended up causing only a minor thumb burn readily treated by rinsing with water.”

“There is no reason to think the sovereign nations that ratified the Convention were interested in anything like Bond’s common law assault,” Roberts wrote.

Roberts criticized the government’s reading of the law saying that the chemicals used in the Bond case were not the sort that an ordinary person would associate with instruments of chemical warfare.

“We are reluctant to ignore the ordinary meaning of ‘chemical weapon’ when doing so would transform a statute passed to implement the international Convention on Chemical Weapons into one that also makes it a federal offense to poison goldfish,” he said.

Roberts closed the opinion by saying “there are no life-sized paintings of Bond’s rival washing her thumb. And there are no apparent interests of the United States Congress or the community of nations in seeing Bond end up in federal prison, rather than dealt with (like virtually all other criminals in Pennsylvania) by the state.”

The chief justice was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama embarks Monday night on his second whirlwind trip to Europe this year, visiting three countries in four days.

The president will land in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday morning where he will help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the solidarity movement. He then heads to Brussels for a G7 summit on Wednesday. He’ll dine privately with French President François Hollande in Paris on Thursday and commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy on Friday — all while Russian President Vladimir Putin is nearby.

Here are five things to watch on Obama’s four-day, three-country tour of Europe:

1. ALL EYES ON UKRAINE

The crisis in Ukraine will dominate Obama’s time in Europe one week after the country held successful national elections. Obama will seek to offer reassurances to eastern European countries that the U.S. is committed to maintaining the region’s security. He’ll look to do so in his first stop in Warsaw, a western neighbor to Ukraine. The president is slated to meet there with central and eastern European leaders, including Ukraine’s newly-elected president, Petro Poroshenko.

“This is an important time for President Obama to affirm directly to President-elect Poroshenko our commitment to the people of Ukraine,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said ahead of Wednesday’s meeting. “We’ve admired his commitment to pursue dialogue and to aim to reduce tensions and put Ukraine on a positive path. And in these days before his inauguration, this will be an important time for the President to check in directly and review his agenda.”

While in Warsaw, Obama will give a speech at a ceremony honoring the 25th Anniversary of the first free, post-Communist elections in Poland, which the administration says “sends an important message to people in Ukraine.”

“It’s a very powerful moment to both look back at the history of how Polish democracy was won, but also look at the current moment and the need for the United States and Europe to stand together on behalf of the security of Eastern Europe, and to stand in support of democratic values and all of those who would reach for democratic values, as we’ve seen so powerfully in Ukraine these last several months,” Rhodes said.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Ukraine will also be high on the agenda at the G7 Summit along with discussions on energy, climate and trade.

2. DANCING AROUND PUTIN

Obama will meet with his G7 partners in Brussels after the leaders cancelled their participation in the G8, which was supposed to be held in Sochi, Russia. The move was a direct snub of Putin after Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Obama and Putin are scheduled to be in Europe at the same time, raising the question of whether the two will exchange words face-to-face for the first time since the crisis in Ukraine began.

Though he’s excluded from the meeting in Brussels, Putin will get some one-on-one time with Hollande in Paris Thursday, the same day Obama is set to dine privately with the French president.

The White House says there is no planned bilateral meeting between Obama and Putin, but the two leaders could cross paths during D-Day celebrations on Friday. Both are scheduled to attend a luncheon for leaders and an international ceremony commemorating D-Day at Sword Beach.

“Clearly, they will be in the same place, attending the leaders’ lunch and then the ceremony, so they will certainly have cause to interact in that context,” Rhodes said.

3. REMEMBERING D-DAY

Obama’s trip will culminate with a stop at Normandy to celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The president, who participated in the 65th anniversary festivities in 2009, will speak at the American cemetery in Normandy at a celebration honoring “the ultimate manifestation of the allies working together on behalf of freedom.”

While honoring the legacy of the World War II veterans, Obama will tie the valiant efforts of those soldiers to the men and women serving in the military today as part of the “9/11 generation.”

“He will aim to connect the service of that D-Day generation with the service of the 9/11 generation today,” Rhodes said. “We have a generation since 9/11 that has equated itself equally in terms of their commitment to serve in a time of war and stand up for those values, and that without that type of service, those values cannot endure.”

“It takes the United States, it takes our leadership, and it takes our alliances to secure the freedoms that we pay tribute to at anniversaries like this,” he said.

4. FLEXING FOREIGN POLICY MUSCLE

Obama’s trip to Europe comes at a time of renewed focus on foreign policy issues. Last week, the president outlined his foreign policy vision for the final two years of his presidency, including a plan to remove all troops from Afghanistan by 2016, and stressed that diplomacy, not full scale military operations, should be key in future international efforts.

But the president heads to Poland as one of its famous former leaders — former President Lech Walesa — wants to share some tough words with him, saying Obama has failed as a world leader.

5. THE BERGDAHL FACTOR

Obama travels to Europe just after the administration negotiated the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban for five years.

The administration sees Bergdahl’s release as a major win, but criticism has poured in from Republican lawmakers who see the exchange of five Guantanamo detainees for Bergdahl as a risk to U.S. security. While the president is abroad, lawmakers stateside could continue lobbing these critiques.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama embarks Monday night on his second whirlwind trip to Europe this year, visiting three countries in four days.

The president will land in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday morning where he will help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the solidarity movement. He then heads to Brussels for a G7 summit on Wednesday. He’ll dine privately with French President François Hollande in Paris on Thursday and commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy on Friday — all while Russian President Vladimir Putin is nearby.

Here are five things to watch on Obama’s four-day, three-country tour of Europe:

1. ALL EYES ON UKRAINE

The crisis in Ukraine will dominate Obama’s time in Europe one week after the country held successful national elections. Obama will seek to offer reassurances to eastern European countries that the U.S. is committed to maintaining the region’s security. He’ll look to do so in his first stop in Warsaw, a western neighbor to Ukraine. The president is slated to meet there with central and eastern European leaders, including Ukraine’s newly-elected president, Petro Poroshenko.

“This is an important time for President Obama to affirm directly to President-elect Poroshenko our commitment to the people of Ukraine,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said ahead of Wednesday’s meeting. “We’ve admired his commitment to pursue dialogue and to aim to reduce tensions and put Ukraine on a positive path. And in these days before his inauguration, this will be an important time for the President to check in directly and review his agenda.”

While in Warsaw, Obama will give a speech at a ceremony honoring the 25th Anniversary of the first free, post-Communist elections in Poland, which the administration says “sends an important message to people in Ukraine.”

“It’s a very powerful moment to both look back at the history of how Polish democracy was won, but also look at the current moment and the need for the United States and Europe to stand together on behalf of the security of Eastern Europe, and to stand in support of democratic values and all of those who would reach for democratic values, as we’ve seen so powerfully in Ukraine these last several months,” Rhodes said.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Ukraine will also be high on the agenda at the G7 Summit along with discussions on energy, climate and trade.

2. DANCING AROUND PUTIN

Obama will meet with his G7 partners in Brussels after the leaders cancelled their participation in the G8, which was supposed to be held in Sochi, Russia. The move was a direct snub of Putin after Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Obama and Putin are scheduled to be in Europe at the same time, raising the question of whether the two will exchange words face-to-face for the first time since the crisis in Ukraine began.

Though he’s excluded from the meeting in Brussels, Putin will get some one-on-one time with Hollande in Paris Thursday, the same day Obama is set to dine privately with the French president.

The White House says there is no planned bilateral meeting between Obama and Putin, but the two leaders could cross paths during D-Day celebrations on Friday. Both are scheduled to attend a luncheon for leaders and an international ceremony commemorating D-Day at Sword Beach.

“Clearly, they will be in the same place, attending the leaders’ lunch and then the ceremony, so they will certainly have cause to interact in that context,” Rhodes said.

3. REMEMBERING D-DAY

Obama’s trip will culminate with a stop at Normandy to celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The president, who participated in the 65th anniversary festivities in 2009, will speak at the American cemetery in Normandy at a celebration honoring “the ultimate manifestation of the allies working together on behalf of freedom.”

While honoring the legacy of the World War II veterans, Obama will tie the valiant efforts of those soldiers to the men and women serving in the military today as part of the “9/11 generation.”

“He will aim to connect the service of that D-Day generation with the service of the 9/11 generation today,” Rhodes said. “We have a generation since 9/11 that has equated itself equally in terms of their commitment to serve in a time of war and stand up for those values, and that without that type of service, those values cannot endure.”

“It takes the United States, it takes our leadership, and it takes our alliances to secure the freedoms that we pay tribute to at anniversaries like this,” he said.

4. FLEXING FOREIGN POLICY MUSCLE

Obama’s trip to Europe comes at a time of renewed focus on foreign policy issues. Last week, the president outlined his foreign policy vision for the final two years of his presidency, including a plan to remove all troops from Afghanistan by 2016, and stressed that diplomacy, not full scale military operations, should be key in future international efforts.

But the president heads to Poland as one of its famous former leaders — former President Lech Walesa — wants to share some tough words with him, saying Obama has failed as a world leader.

5. THE BERGDAHL FACTOR

Obama travels to Europe just after the administration negotiated the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban for five years.

The administration sees Bergdahl’s release as a major win, but criticism has poured in from Republican lawmakers who see the exchange of five Guantanamo detainees for Bergdahl as a risk to U.S. security. While the president is abroad, lawmakers stateside could continue lobbing these critiques.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →