AND SO IT BEGINS: WISCONSIN COMPANY TO BEGIN MICROCHIPPING EMPLOYEES

RIVER FALLS, WI — A Wisconsin company announced this week that it will begin microchipping their employees, according to a report published by USA Today (https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/nation-now/2017/07/24/wisconsin-company-install-rice-sized-microchips-employees/503867001/).

The company behind the decision, Three Square Market, which is based out of River Falls, Wisconsin, says the time has come and that others need to step up and follow their technological example.

“It’s the next thing that’s inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it,” the software development company’s Chief Executive Officer, Todd Westby, said of the move.

More than 50 of the company’s employees will begin having the devices implanted in their hands starting next week, says Westby. Each chip is about the size of a single grain of rice and can be used to purchase items in place of a traditional debit or credit card.

In addition to using the chips to store their financial information, Westby says they will also be able to use the chip to gain access to the company building and log onto their computers.

“We’ll come up, scan the item,” Westby explained, while showing how the process will work at an actual break room market kiosk. “We’ll hit pay with a credit card, and it’s asking to swipe my proximity payment now. I’ll hold my hand up, just like my cell phone, and it’ll pay for my product.”

Each chip costs around $300, the cost of which will be covered by the company. Westby says the chip is implanted between a person’s thumb and forefinger and the data is both encrypted and secure.

Westby says the company plans to market the technology to other major companies, many of which, he says, have already expressed a great deal of interest.

Critics of the technology, however, say microchipping human beings sounds a little too much like “1984” and question the true need for it.

“Conceptually you could get data about your health, and you could [get] data about your whereabouts, how often you’re working, how long you’re working, if you’re taking toilet breaks and things like that,” microbiologist Ben Libberton of the Swedish university Karolinska Institute told Australian ABC (http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/human-body/swedish-company-epicenter-implants-microchips-into-employees/news-story/5c48700ebb54262ae389db085593ab12). All of that data could conceivably be collected. So then the question is: What happens to it afterwards? What is it used for? Who is going to be using it? Who is going to be seeing it?”

Westby says that at this point getting the chip is voluntary and that no employees are being forced to receive the technology. He did not clarify if at any point in the future, however, that may change.

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SAD ENDING TO CHARLIE GARD CASE: PARENTS END FIGHT TO SAVE DYING BABY

LONDON, ENGLAND — The parents of Charlie Gard, the infant at the center of an international right to life debate, have ended their fight to bring the terminally ill child to the United States where he would have received experimental treatment for his condition.

As tears streamed down their faces, Chris Gard and Connie Yates stood next to their attorney who announced the young couple’s heartbreaking decision.

“Time has run out. The window of opportunity has been lost,” the couple’s lawyer, Grant Armstrong, said at London’s High Court. “It’s too late for Charlie. The damage has been done.”

Charlie, who had gained support from both U.S. president Donald Trump and Pope Francis who argued that the infant deserved every opportunity for treatment, suffers from rare genetic condition, Mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. As a result of his deteriorating condition the child suffers from brain damage and is unable to breathe on his own.

The 11 month old’s parents were expected to present argument before the High Court on Monday that they initially hoped would sway the court to allow them to take the child to the United States to seek additional treatment but after consulting with specialists in the U.S. it was determined that too much time had been wasted in the ongoing legal battle with the hospital where Charlie had been receiving care.

Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie has been undergoing treatment since last October, had petitioned the court to allow them to turn off life support for the infant on the grounds that more treatment would only cause Charlie undue pain. Charlie’s parents, on the other hand, refused to allow them to do so and petitioned the High Court to allow them to seek experimental treatment outside the country.

With the court’s permission, Dr. Michio Hirano, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center, which has treated children with the syndrome in the past, examined the boy last week but determined that the child’s condition was at a point of no return.

Sobbing as she stood in front of the court, the boy’s mother said that she and her husband “only wanted to give him a chance of life.” She added “we have decided to let our son go” after determining that at this point there was no hope.

The judge hearing the case, Nicholas Francis, praised the parents on Monday for their fight to help save their son. “No parent could have done more for their child,” he told them, recognizing that the only “right thing” do to now is “to let him die with dignity.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Great Ormond Street Hospital expressed sympathy for Charlie’s parents and said no specified a timeline for shutting off the boy’s life support. The decision on to when to do so, said the hospital, will be made in consultation with the parents.

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CHARLIE GARD’S PARENTS STORM OUT OF COURTROOM AS INFANT’S FUTURE LIES IN JUDGE’S HANDS

LONDON, ENGLAND — The parents of Charlie Gard, the 11-month-old boy in the middle of an international debate over the right to life, stormed out of a London courtroom on Thursday after arguing with a judge over the boy’s fate.

Gard, who suffers from mitochondrial depletion syndrome, an often terminal genetic disorder, has been receiving treatment at a London hospital for the past several months. Physicians at the hospital, revered as one of the best children’s hospitals in the world, have argued that the boy, who can not see, move or breathe without the aid of life support, has exhausted their efforts and should be removed from his ventilator and allowed to die naturally.

Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, believe that experimental treatment available in the U.S. and Italy for the condition offers a 10 percent chance of improving the boy’s quality of life and reducing the brain damage he has sustained as a result of his illness (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-405932860).

The boy’s parents filed an emergency petition with the Royal Courts of Justice in London for a hearing to request permission to take their son out of the U.K. for experimental treatment. Counsel for the hospital, who argues that doing so would be “cruel and inhumane” treatment of the boy argued that they, not the boy’s parents, have the ultimate right to determine what course of treatment, or in this case, non treatment, is in the baby’s best interests.

“A world where only parents speak and decide for children and where children have no separate identity or rights and no court to hear and protect them is far from the world in which [Great Ormond Street Hospital ] treats its child patients,” a spokesperson for the hospital argued before the court.

During the hearing, Chris Gard punched a table, while his wife said: “We said he’s not in suffering and in pain. If he was we wouldn’t be up here fighting for that!”

Frustrated, the boy’s parents stormed out of the hearing, only to return a short time later.

A New York-based expert on mitochondrial depletion syndrome gave testimony to the court via satellite – in which he said he believes an experimental drug available in the U.S., pending approval of the FDA – offers a chance of improving the boy’s condition.

The expert told the judge he was willing to come to London to examine the boy, should the court permit it.

Gard’s case gained international spotlight after both Pope Francis and President Donald Trump spoke out on behalf of the boy’s right to seek alternative treatment and offered to help Charlie’s parents in any way they possibly could.

Both New York Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center have offered to take in the infant should the current “legal hurdles” be cleared and should the medications that Charlie requires “receive emergency approval from the FDA for an experimental treatment as appropriate.”

A petition asking the court to give the boy’s parents permission to move his care to the U.S. has just hit the 500,000 mark (http://metro.co.uk/2017/07/13/charlie-gard-petition-hits-500000-signatures-as-parents-fight-for-his-life-6777406/).

A decision by the London court is expected by the end of the week.

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DON COMES CLEAN: TRUMP JR RELEASES FULL TRANSCRIPT OF EMAIL INTERACTION WITH RUSSIAN LAWYER WHO SOUGHT TO STOP HILLARY

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Donald Trump, Jr on Tuesday released what he claimed was the entire email thread between himself and a Russian lawyer who claimed to have dirt on his father’s then presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

Trump Jr., who on Sunday admitted to meeting with the lawyer in the Spring of 2016, released the chain of emails via social media on Tuesday morning.

The correspondence (https://twitter.com/DonaldJTrumpJr/status/884789418455953413/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.foxnews.com%2Fpolitics%2F2017%2F07%2F11%2Fread-donald-trump-jr-s-emails-on-russia-attorney-meeting.html), seemingly between Jr and publicist Rob Goldstone, documents an apparent offer to provide information that would “incriminate” now President Trump’s then Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

“The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” an email reportedly from Goldstone and the first in the chain released by Donald Trump, Jr. reads. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump — helped along by Aras and Emin.”

During his initial disclosure on Sunday, Trump Jr. claimed that he first met “Emin” while working to organize the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Russia. She was later identified as Emin Agalarov, a member of the Russian elite whose billionaire father, Aras Agalarov, has reported ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. replies.

According to the emails released, Goldstone scheduled a June 9 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who is later identified in the emails as “The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow.” The meeting was also attended by then candidate Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, who he, as president, went on to appoint as senior aide.

Despite the effort the meeting turned out to be a waste of time, according to Trump Jr, who denied any wrongdoing in a separate statement released on Tuesday. According to the younger Trump, no usable information was obtained and the results of the meeting were not even worth mentioning to his father, who he claims had no knowledge of the event.

“The information they suggested they had about Hillary Clinton I thought was Political Opposition Research,” Trump Jr. said in the statement. “I first wanted to just have a phone call but when they didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet. I decided to take the meeting…As Rob Goldstone said just today in the press, the entire meeting was ‘the most insane nonsense I ever heard. And I was actually agitated by it.'”

Although Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, who have both denied any wrongdoing, have backed Trump, Jr’s version of last summer’s events, the revelations have bolstered Democrats’ efforts to call for the president’s impeachment.

“There’s no escaping it: the Trump Campaign’s inner circle met with an agent of a hostile foreign power to influence the outcome of an American election,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D)-CA said in statement on Tuesday. “The American people face a White House riddled with shadowy Russian connections and desperate to hide the truth.”

In a statement on Twitter, The New York Times claimed Trump, Jr. released the email chain only after being advised that the Times had obtained a copy of the communications and were planning to release it to the press (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/07/11/us/politics/document-Donaldtrumpjr.html).

Trump, Jr. claims the release was done as part of an effort to prove that he had nothing to hide.

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‘WE WON’T HESITATE’: TENSIONS RISE WITH RUSSIA AFTER SHOOT DOWN OF SYRIAN JET

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tensions between the United States and Russia have again reached a fever pitch after a U.S. jet shot down a Syrian aircraft on Sunday, the first time in history a U.S. jet shot down a Syrian plane.

Responding to Russian threats to treat U.S.-led coalition planes flying in Syria, west of the Euphrates River, as targets, a Pentagon spokesperson said Monday that U.S. forces will not hesitate to respond to Russian acts of military aggression.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, in a statement to Russian news agencies, declared his outrage over the incident and compared the shoot down to “helping the terrorists that the U.S. is fighting against.”

“The shooting down of a Syrian Air Force jet in Syria’s airspace is a cynical violation of Syria’s sovereignty,” said Ryabkov. “The US’ repeated combat operations under the guise of ‘combating terrorism’ against the legitimate armed forces of a UN member-country are a flagrant violation of international law and an actual military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.”

“What is this, if not an act of aggression,” he asked.

Ryabkov declared that in the wake of the incident, any safety nets between the U.S. and Russia are now off. A hotline, had been set up between Russia and the US to prevent mid-air collisions, has been suspended by Russian officials.

“All kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the international coalition detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets,” said Ryabkov, who stopped just short of saying that any U.S. planes entering the airspace would be shot down.

“We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened,” Capt. Jeff Davis said in response to Ryabkov’s comments Monday morning.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford echoed Davis’ comments while speaking on Monday at the National Press Club.

“I’m confident that we are still communicating between our operations center and the Russia federation operations center — and I’m also confident that our forces have the capability to take care of themselves,” said Dunford.

In a separate statement, Department of Defense spokesperson Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway said U.S. forces will continue conducting “operations throughout Syria, targeting ISIS forces and providing air support for Coalition partner forces on the ground.”

“As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian Regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to re-position aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrew given known threats in the battlespace,” Rankine-Galloway said.

Sunday’s conflict marked the first time in nearly two decades that U.S. forces have shot down an warplane in air-to-air combat.

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TRUMP TALKS TOUGH: PRESIDENT SLAMS LONDON MAYOR’S ‘PATHETIC EXCUSE’ AFTER LATEST MUSLIM TERROR ATTACK HITS CITY

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a series of controversial remarks, Donald Trump made his frustrations clear on London mayor Sadiq Khan’s handling of the recent wave of terror attacks as the president took to social media on Sunday to voice his disapproval.

“Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!” Trump tweeted
Sunday in response to Kahn’s proclamation that London residents had no no cause for alarm. “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” Trump added.

It was the second time in Trump’s short presidency that he’s criticized London’s first Muslim mayor. Khan’s “no reason to be alarmed” comments were in regard to an uptick in police presence on London streets as the city grapples to overcome it’s latest terror attack.

“Just like terrorists are constantly evolving and finding new ways to disrupt us, harm us, attack us, the police and experts and all of us are finding new ways to keep us safe,” Khan said on Sunday. “Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. No reason to be alarmed.”

A spokesperson for Khan responded by calling Trump’s remark “ill-informed” and said the president took the mayor’s words out of context.

(The mayor) “has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks urging Londoners not to be alarmed when they saw more police — including armed officers — on the streets,” Khan’s spokesperson said in a statement.

President Trump followed up his heated remarks toward Kahn with a Twitter rant on Monday in which the president blasted the 4th and 9th Circuit Court’s rulings to shut down his proposed travel ban.

“The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.,” Trump tweeted. “The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court – & seek much tougher version!”

“In any event we are EXTREME VETTING people coming into the U.S. in order to help keep our country safe. The courts are slow and political!” the president added.

In a measure to move his executive order on the travel ban forward, lawyers for the Trump administration on Thursday appealed to the Supreme Court to review and reinstate the ban, hoping the court will overturn lower court rulings that have stalled the order from being implemented. If overturned, the ban will restrict travel from 6 predominantly Muslim countries that are historically considered hot beds for terror.

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BYE BYE PARIS: DEMOCRATS IN MELTDOWN OVER TRUMP DECISION TO PULL OUT OF CLIMATE DEAL

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump is expected to announce his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, published reports claimed on Wednesday (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/trump-plans-withdraw-paris-climate-deal-article-1.3209157).

The agreement, which was entered in to by the Obama administration in 2015, was the crown jewel of climate change believing Democrats because it would have forced the U.S. to reduce fossil fuel emissions by nearly 30 percent by the year 2025.

In response to reports that Trump is planning to bow out, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called President Donald Trump’s decision “a stunning abdication of American leadership,” saying in a statement (http://www.democraticleader.gov/newsroom/53117/) that withdrawing from the agreement will result in “a grave threat to our planet’s future.”
“In walking away from this agreement, the President is denying scientific truths, removing safeguards that protect our health and our environment, protecting polluters and their dirty energy agenda, and threatening our national and global security,” Pelosi said.

During the president’s trip abroad last week, European leaders reportedly pressured him to honor the previous administration’s agreement, but the pleas fell on deaf ears according to administration sources.

“I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” the president, who repeatedly vowed to withdraw the U.S. from the deal throughout his presidential campaign tweeted on Wednesday.

However, not everyone inside the Trump administration believes pulling out of the agreement, which was signed by nearly 200 other countries, is the right choice.

Elon Musk, who currently serves as an adviser to the president on the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative and the Strategic and Policy Forum, announced on Wednesday that he will resign if the president decides to withdraw.

“[I] don’t know which way Paris will go,” Musk tweeted (https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/869970236669177856), “but I’ve done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain.”
When asked what his response will be should the president decide to withdraw from the agreement, Musk responded, “will have no choice but to depart councils in that case.”

Nick Burns, who served as a high ranking adviser in the George W. Bush’s administration, also went public on Wednesday with his concerns.

“This would be a colossal mistake,” said Burns. “It would also devastate our international credibility. We are one of the two largest carbon emitters, with China. We are the ones who put this deal together. It is the first step to try to do something about climate change. For President Trump to take us out, it is anti-science.”

Regardless of the push back, sources close to the president say he will not be pressured into making a decision he believes is economically bad for the country just for the sake of popularity.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, press secretary Sean Spicer said he wasn’t at liberty to say whether or not the president had made a final decision on withdrawing from the Paris agreement.

“I obviously don’t know whether he’s made it,” Spicer said during an afternoon briefing. “When the President has a decision he will make that announcement and he will make it clear what the basis of that is.”

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US TENSIONS MOUNT WITH IRAN; IRANIAN PRESIDENT: ‘WE NEED MISSILES TO CONFRONT TRUMP’

TEHRAN, IRAN — Recently re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has made it clear that he is no fan of U.S. president Donald Trump and took aim this week at Congress’s announcement of new sanctions.

Just days after Trump criticized the Islamic Republic for its ballistic missile program and support of terrorism in the Middle East, Rouhani countered that Iran would will never halt its clandestine missile program and said his nation will use military force if necessary to stop the United States and it’s allies.

“We need missiles and the enemy should know that we make everything we need and we don’t pay an iota of attention to your words,” Rouhani said on Wednesday during a meeting with Iranian cabinet members. “The remarks by the enemies of the Iranian nation against Iran’s missile power are out of ignorance.”

Rouhini’s remarks came as the rogue nation announced the construction of a third underground ballistic missile production factory, helmed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.

Iranian General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said the factory is necessary to to boosts Tehran’s “missile power” and intimidate the United States and the “Zionist regime,” of Israel.

“We will increase our missile power. Our enemies, the United States, and the Zionist regime (Israel) are naturally upset and get angry at our missile production, tests and underground missile facilities because they want Iran to be in a weak position,” vowed Hajizadeh on Thursday.

Iran’s repititious firing of ballistic missiles and launching of space missiles—which are believed to be cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile program—have angered both Democrats and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill.

In a bi-partisan decision, Congress announced on Thursday it’s plan to increase economic sanctions on Iran as a direct result of its missile program and support of Islamic terrorism and illegal weapons trade.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), a chief sponsor of the legislation, said the sanctions are necessary to ensure that “Iran’s leaders understand they do not enjoy blanket impunity as the United States” and that Iran “continues to live up to its commitments under the nuclear agreement”.

“Independent of the nuclear portfolio, and as President Rouhani starts his second presidential term, our broader policy towards Iran must be one that holds Tehran accountable for their destabilizing efforts in the region, illegal and dangerous missile technology development, and nefarious activities as the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism,” Menendez said. “As the administration continues to review its Iran policy, Congress must set out clear markers that impose real consequences to Iran’s illicit behavior that runs counter to our national security and that of our allies in the region.”

The new legislation will impose mandatory sanctions on all individuals associated with Iran’s ballistic missile program, and any nation who carries out transactions with them.

In a controversial deal worked out with the Obama administration in 2015, Iran agreed to redesign, convert, and reduce its nuclear facilities and accept the Additional Protocol (with provisional application) in exchange for the lifting of all nuclear-related economical sanctions, freeing up tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue and frozen assets.

President Trump, calling the Iran nuclear deal “the worst deal ever made” vowed to overturn the agreement.

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BREAKING: 19 DEAD, 50 INJURED AFTER EXPLOSION AT U.K. CONCERT. TERROR SUSPECTED, SAY POLICE

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND — An explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England late Monday has resulted in at least 19 fatalities and 50 injuries, say police.

Sources close to the case say law enforcement officials have are treating the incident as a “terrorist incident.”

British Transport Police say an initial explosion occurred in the foyer of Manchester Arena at approximately 10:30 p.m. Although it police have yet to confirm, eyewitnesses to the event say additional explosions occurred shortly after.

Concert goer Sasina Akhtar told the Manchester Evening News that Grande had just finished her final song of the concert when “there was an explosion behind us at the back of the arena. We saw young girls with blood on them, everyone was screaming and people were running. There was lots of smoke.”

David Richardson, who had brought his 13-year-old daughter to see the show, said he heard two explosions just after the show.

“It was about 40 feet behind us near one of the exits. We just thought it was people messing about then it happened again. Another explosion sounded. Then we saw the smoke. Everyone just fled.”

A video that was uploaded to social media shortly after the event shows the outside of the arena and the sound of an explosion could be heard coming from inside.

So far, no terrorists groups have claimed credit for the bloodshed, but an unconfirmed report suggests that the act may have been carried out by a suicide bomber.

…STORY DEVELOPING

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‘WE STAND TOGETHER ALWAYS’: TRUMP AFFIRMS US PLEDGE TO ISRAEL DURING FIRST VISIT AS PRESIDENT

JERUSALEM — “We are not only longtime friends, we are great allies and partners. We stand together always,” president Donald Trump said of the United States and Israel during his first official visit as president.

Joined by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at a joint press conference in Jerusalem, the president also called upon the Israeli government to help the United States halt the threat of a nuclear Iran.

“The United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon, never ever, and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias, and it must cease immediately,” Trump said during a joint appearance with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem. “There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran, and it is indeed a threat, there is no question about that,” he added.

Accompanied by first lady Melania Trump and daughter Ivanka, the president also traveled to Jerusalem’s Old City where he visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. During his visit, the president made history by becoming the first sitting American president to visit the Western Wall, where he prayed silently and slipped a written prayer request between it’s stones.

Trump will continue touring Jerusalem before meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu this evening.

The trip marks the first official visit made by the president to the Middle East since being inaugurated in January.

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