The Note's Must-Reads for Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Note's Must-Reads are a round-up of today's political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at

Compiled by ABC News' Jayce Henderson , Will Cantine and Janine Elliot

FOREIGN POLICY The New York Daily News' James Warren: " 'America must always lead on the world stage:' Obama tells West Point graduates" He was muscular, but not war-like, and "haunted" by the deaths of young soldiers. Speaking to the graduating class at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, President Obama on Wednesday said "America must always lead on the world stage" - but should use its military power judiciously. Offering a new multifaceted vision of American foreign policy, he sought a tricky balance between the U.S. as either isolationist or the world's policeman. LINK

Wall Street Journal's Carol E. Lee: " Obama Defends U.S. Policy Based Less on Military Might" President Barack Obama sought on Wednesday to define how to project American power: Not necessarily by major deployments of American forces, but rather through targeted operations, diplomacy and aid. Mr. Obama's address to graduating cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point marked the start of his campaign to counter critics of his foreign policy doctrine and blunt charges, chiefly by political opponents, that what his critics call his gun-shy approach has diluted American influence on the world stage. LINK

The New York Times' Peter Baker: " Rebutting Critics, Obama Seeks Higher Ban For Military Action" As President Obama listens to assessments of his foreign policy these days, he grows deeply frustrated. Syria? Ukraine? Afghanistan? What more do his critics want him to do? Get into another war? Keep fighting one that has already become America's longest? After more than five years in office, Mr. Obama has become increasingly convinced that while the United States must play a vital role beyond its borders, it should avoid getting dragged into the quicksand of international crises that have trapped some of his predecessors. It is time for an end to what he called "a long season of war." LINK

The Washington Post's David Nakamura: " Obama Lays Out New Postwar Foreign Policy, Stresses Nonmilitary Options" President Obama on Wednesday laid out his vision for a comprehensive post-9/11 foreign policy after more than a decade of war overseas, arguing for a new form of American leadership that strikes a balance between interventionism and avoiding "foreign entanglements." Speaking in front of 1,000 cadets here at the U.S. Military Academy's commencement ceremony, Obama articulated an approach that he said would employ targeted force in a responsible fashion, including a new initiative aimed at responding to terrorist threats. He sought to blunt growing criticism from political rivals who have called his administration feckless in its response to global crises in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere. LINK

Bloomberg's Jonathan Allen: " Obama Answers Foreign Policy Critics With: Less-Is-More" President Barack Obama is offering a less-is-more doctrine to explain his foreign policy, a bow to the reality that after five and a half years in office his strategy remains a puzzle to much of the public. While Obama vowed when running for president that he wouldn't be as "doctrinaire" in foreign affairs as predecessor George W. Bush, he spelled out yesterday his own vision for the use of American power in a speech that was mostly a rebuttal to his critics. LINK

VETERANS AFFAIRS ABC News' John Parkinson: " VA Official Denies Destroyed Wait Lists Were Secret" A senior official at the center of the Department of Veterans Affairs wait list scandal told Congress that he does not believe the documents, which are all believed to have been destroyed, were secret. The House Veterans Affairs Committee held an uncommon primetime hearing Wednesday evening that extended late into the night to examine the VA's lack of compliance with a May 8 congressional subpoena for documents that lawmakers hope could shine light on a hidden wait list that schedulers allegedly used to manipulate a backlog of veterans waiting for health care. LINK

ABC News' Arlette Saenz: " Democrats Join GOP in Demanding VA Secretary Resign" Pressure on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign increased today after an inspector general's interim report found that inappropriate scheduling practices have been "systemic" throughout the VA. For the first time, Democrats in the House and Senate joined Republicans in issuing new calls for Shinseki to step down from his post leading the VA after the release of the report. LINK

USA Today's Catalina Camia: " Democratic Senators Call on VA Chief to Resign" Like falling dominoes, Democratic senators moved quickly Wednesday to call on embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign amid a growing scandal over long wait times for medical care. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado was the first to say Shinseki should step aside, followed by Montana's John Walsh and North Carolina's Kay Hagan. All three are battling Republican challengers in their election campaigns back home. LINK

Wall Street Journal's Ben Kesling: " 'Serious Conditions' at Phoenix Veterans Affairs Office, Watchdog Says" A watchdog's report found systemic problems at Department of Veterans Affairs health-care facilities, including improper procedures for scheduling patient appointments and efforts to hide excessive wait times, increasing the pressure on embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. The interim report by the VA's independent inspector general focuses on the Phoenix VA Health Care System in Arizona, where wait times for patient appointments were improperly reported, but also points to widespread scheduling problems throughout the VA health-care system. LINK

Politico's Edward-Isaac Dovere and Carrie Budoff Brown: " Barack Obama Still Undecided On Eric Shinseki" President Barack Obama hasn't decided to fire Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki - at least, not yet. But he has reached the point where he doesn't know if Shinseki will be able to fix the problems at the VA, White House aides said Wednesday. When the president essentially put the VA secretary on probation last week, he said his red line in this situation would be evidence that the misconduct at Veterans Affairs had to be "systemic." The VA Inspector General's report released Wednesday says the evidence is clear: there are "systemic patient safety issues and possible wrongful deaths." LINK

The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery and Josh Hicks: " 'Troubling' Report Sparks New Wave Of Calls For VA Chief's Resignation" An independent review has determined that Department of Veterans Affairs officials falsified records to hide the amount of time former service members have had to wait for medical appointments, calling a crisis that arose in one VA hospital in Phoenix a "systemic problem nationwide." The inspector general's report, a 35-page interim document, prompted new calls for VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, a former general and Vietnam veteran, to resign. Some of the calls on Capitol Hill were from members of President Obama's party, complicating what is already a political challenge for a president who has made veterans issues a legacy-defining priority after more than a decade of war. LINK

The New York Times' Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Michael D. Shear: " Severe Report Finds V.A. Hid Waiting Lists" In the first confirmation that Department of Veterans Affairs administrators manipulated medical waiting lists at one and possibly more hospitals, the department's inspector general reported on Wednesday that 1,700 patients at the veterans medical center in Phoenix were not placed on the official waiting list for doctors' appointments and may never have received care. The scathing report by Richard J. Griffin, the acting inspector general, validates allegations raised by whistle-blowers and others that Veterans Affairs officials in Phoenix employed artifices to cloak long waiting times for veterans seeking medical care. LINK

EDWARD SNOWDEN USA Today's Michael Winter: " Edward Snowden: I Was a Trained Spy, Not Just a Hacker" Edward Snowden suggested during an interview that aired on NBC Wednesday night that he believed he did the right thing in making classified U.S. government information available to the news media. "There have been times throughout American history where what is right is not the same as what is legal," Snowden said during the hour long interview that aired from Moscow in Russia, where Snowden has been granted asylum. "Sometimes, to do the right thing you have to break the law," he said. LINK

Wall Street Journal's Reid J. Epstein: " Edward Snowden, John Kerry Exchange Taunts" Edward Snowden and top Obama administration officials continued lobbing intercontinental taunts at one another Wednesday, showing little sign of an end to the hostilities between Washington and the former contractor who leaked some of the National Security Agency's most guarded secrets. Mr. Snowden told NBC News this week that he was a true spy and that the administration was unfairly diminishing his qualifications. LINK

The Hill's Kristina Wong and martin Matishak: " House lawmakers rip VA officials" House members slammed Veterans Affairs officials at a hearing Wednesday evening, after chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said the department failed to comply with a subpoena request into the alleged destruction of a secret waiting list at its Phoenix clinic."Ma'am, veterans died. Get us the answers please," Miller told VA's assistant secretary for legislative affairs Joan Mooney, cutting her off multiple times during the nearly four-hour long hearing. LINK

IMMIGRATION The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan: " Children swarming southern border prove a test to Obama's immigration policy" Children traveling without their families, including an "overwhelming" number younger than 12, are flooding across the southwestern border in the latest test of the Obama administration's immigration policy. Homeland Security Officials predict that 60,000 minors will cross the border this year and that the number will double next year, accounting for an astonishing percentage of people trying to jump the border - braving the tremendous perils of crossing Mexico and trying to evade border authorities, hoping to eventually connect with family in the U.S. LINK

HEALTH CARE Wall Street Journal's Kristina Peterson and Laura Meckler: " House Conservatives Push for GOP Health-Care Bill" After years of bashing the Affordable Care Act, conservative House Republicans are pushing for a vote on a GOP health-care plan to show they have a policy position beyond repealing the current law. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) said in January the House would vote this year on a health-care alternative. Four months later, Republican leaders are working with committee chairmen, as well as with GOP lawmakers who are also physicians, to reach a consensus on what that plan should include. LINK

USA Today's Kelly S. Kennedy: " Report Shows $6.7 Billion in Improper Medicare Payments" Medicare paid out $6.7 billion in 2010 for health care visits that were improperly coded or lacked documentation, a report released Thursday found. That's 21% of Medicare's total budget for diagnostic and assessment visits, according to the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general. They found that 42% of diagnostic and assessment claims were improperly coded and 19% were improperly documented. LINK

CONSERVATIVES The Los Angeles Times' David Lauter: " Conservative tide continues to ebb, particularly on social issues" Self-professed conservatives have long outnumbered liberals in America, but the gap has narrowed significantly in the last four years, particularly on social issues, a shift that could harm GOP prospects in future elections. On social issues, the number of people who identify themselves as liberal is now almost equal to the share who say they are conservative, according to the latest polling by Gallup. For years, conservatives held an advantage. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO: " McCain 'Confident' VA Reform Bill Will Be Bipartisan Effort" LINK " President Obama Lays Out Foreign Policy Plans" LINK

BOOKMARKS The Note: LINK ABC News Politics: LINK George Stephanopoulos' Blog: LINK ABC News on Twitter: @ThisWeekABC | @ABCPolitics ABC News Mobile: LINK ABC News Apps: LINK ABC News YouTube: LINK

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