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Trump Lauds ‘Unbreakable’ Trans-Atlantic Alliance as D-Day Anniversary Marked

U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron attended a ceremony Thursday

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Trump in a March tweet accused Facebook, Google and Twitter of being "on the side of the Radical Left Democrats". VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron attended a ceremony Thursday at the American Military Cemetery in Normandy to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, following with a bilateral meeting in the city of Caen.

Ceremonies have been taking place at other cemeteries and monuments across the region as the U.S., France, Britain, Canada and other Allied nations pay tribute to the fallen.

About 2,500 U.S. troops died in a single day on June 6, 1944, as Allied forces invaded Nazi-occupied France. Total Allied casualties that day are estimated at 10,000. Less than a year after the invasion, officially named “Operation Overlord,” Germany surrendered as Berlin fell to the Allies.

The 75th anniversary was marked at dawn on Omaha Beach, below the U.S. cemetery. American D-Day veterans were among the crowd that had gathered to greet the sunrise with a minute’s silence.

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French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S President Donald Trump stand during a ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, June 6, 2019. VOA

President Trump and French President Macron arrived by helicopter several hours later. Seated in the front row, the D-Day veterans were given repeated standing ovations by the thousands-strong crowd. The French president spoke first.

“We know what we owe to you, veterans, our freedom. On behalf of my nation, I just want to say thank you,” Emmanuel Macron told the veterans in English.

Turning to his American counterpart, he spoke pointedly of the alliance between nations underpinning victory and freedom.

“The United States of America, dear President Trump, is never so great as when it fights for the freedom of others,” said Macron.

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President Trump continued the tribute to the fallen and to the veterans present at the ceremony, saying they had saved not only a nation, but a civilization.

“To the more than 170 veterans of World War II, who join us today, you are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live. You are the pride of our nation, you are the glory of our republic, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Today we express our undying gratitude, when you were young, these men enlisted their lives, in a great crusade, one of the greatest of all times,” Trump said, before paying tribute to the shared sacrifice among allies.

“Our cherished alliance was forged in the heat of battle, tested in the trials of war, and proven in the blessings of peace. Our bond is unbreakable,” Trump said.

U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces on D-Day. That post, now known as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is currently held by General Tod Wolters, who also attended the ceremony Thursday. Despite transatlantic political tensions, he told VOA the alliance with Europe is in good health.

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French President Emmanuel Macron (L) meets U.S President Donald Trump during a ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, June 6, 2019. VOA

“Take a look at what took place on Utah Beach, the cooperation between multiple nations and multiple domains,” said Wolters. “And all you have to do is put your feet on the sands and you get a deep appreciation for how powerful the alliance is and the importance of keeping that alliance together. And today I feel very, very confident that the alliance is a strong as it’s ever been.”

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European leaders have repeatedly praised America’s sacrifice, hoping to underline to President Trump the importance of the transatlantic bond at a time of heightened tension and fears over the future of the alliance.

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President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron, walk through The Normandy American Cemetery, following a ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 2019, in Colleville-sur-Mer, No. VOA

Following the ceremony, Trump and Macron held a bilateral meeting in the nearby city of Caen, where NATO, trade and defense issues were expected to feature high on the agenda. (VOA)

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Trump to Pursue Higher Sales Age for Vaping Devices: ‘An Age Limit of 21 or So’

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details

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President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Nov. 8, 2019. VOA

President Donald Trump said Friday his administration will pursue raising the age to purchase electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21 in its upcoming plans to combat youth vaping.

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details.

“We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we’re going to have an age limit of 21 or so,” said Trump, speaking outside the White House.

Currently the minimum age to purchase any tobacco or vaping product is 18, under federal law. But more than one-third of U.S. states have already raised their sales age to 21.

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FILE – A woman buys refills for her Juul at a smoke shop in New York, Dec. 20, 2018. VOA

A federal law raising the purchase age would require congressional action.

Administration officials were widely expected to release plans this week for removing virtually all flavored e-cigarettes from the market. Those products are blamed for soaring rates of underage use by U.S. teenagers.

However, no details have yet appeared, leading vaping critics to worry that the administration is backing away from its original plan.

Trump resisted any specifics on the scope of the restrictions.

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“We’re talking about the age, we’re talking about flavors, we’re also talking about keeping people working — there are some pretty good aspects,” Trump said.

Mint flavor

Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month.

Fruit, candy, dessert and other sweet vaping flavors have been targeted because of their appeal to underage users.

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FILE – A man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette, Oct. 18, 2019. VOA

On Thursday, Juul Labs, the nation’s largest e-cigarette maker, announced it would voluntarily pull its mint-flavored e-cigarettes from the market. That decision followed new research that Juul’s mint is the top choice for many high school students who vape.

With the removal of mint, Juul only sells two flavors: tobacco and menthol.

Vaping critics say menthol must be a part of the flavor ban to prevent teens who currently use mint from switching over.

‘Tobacco 21’ law

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Juul and other tobacco companies have lobbied in support of a federal “Tobacco 21” law to reverse teen use of both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco products. The effort also has broad bipartisan support in Congress, including a bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The logic for hiking the purchase age for cigarettes and other products is clear: Most underage teens who use e-cigarettes or tobacco get it from older friends. Raising the minimum age to 21 is expected to limit the supply of those products in U.S. schools.

Delaying access to cigarettes is also expected to produce major downstream health benefits, with one government-funded report estimating nearly 250,000 fewer deaths due to tobacco over several decades.

Still, anti-tobacco groups have insisted that any “Tobacco 21” law must be accompanied by a ban on flavors, which they say are the primary reason young people use e-cigarettes. (VOA)