Keep your enemies close and kick your friends to the curb.

President Donald Trump perplexed political pundits when he boasted Thursday that he has “a very good relationship” with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, while in the same breath deriding his former right-hand man Stephen Bannon as a traitor.

In a sweeping interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump explained that him calling the North Korean leader a “maniac,” a “bad dude,” “short and fat” and “rocket man” over Twitter is part of a broader strategy to win over his enemies.

“You’ll see that a lot with me,” Trump said about his fiery tweets and nuclear missile threats. “Then all of the sudden somebody’s my best friend.”

“I could give you 20 examples,” he continued, without providing examples. “I’m a very flexible person.”

Trump would not confirm or deny if he has ever spoken with Kim, whose isolated nation has performed a number of ballistic missile tests that have prompted international concern in recent months.

“I’m not saying I have or haven’t,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to comment.”

Trump then steered the conversation to Bannon, who was recently ousted from Breitbart News amid a public feud with the president.

Trump claimed that his ex-chief strategist betrayed him when he told author Michael Wolff that his son, Donald Trump Jr., was “unpatriotic” and “treasonous” for hosting a campaign meeting attended by several Russian operatives promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. When asked if his relationship with Bannon is permanently broken, Trump stated, “I don’t know what the word permanent means.”

—New York Daily News


Louisiana teacher who was handcuffed during meeting urges others to speak out

The Louisiana school teacher who was handcuffed and arrested after she questioned the superintendent’s outsize raise at a school board meeting says she’ll continue to speak up and is demanding apologies.

“By silencing my voice they’ve also taken away, or tried to take away, my First Amendment right to speak,” middle school English teacher Deyshia Hargrave said in a video released by the Louisiana Association of Educators.

The organization said it stands by Hargrave, who believes she deserves apologies from both the superintendent and the officer who placed her in handcuffs.

“As an organization that advocates for the dedicated school employees of Louisiana, we firmly denounce the mistreatment of Ms. Hargrave, a loving parent and dedicated teacher serving the students of Vermilion,” it said in a statement.

Hargrave explained that she attended the meeting on her first day back at school after winter break to voice concerns about the superintendent’s salary increase when teachers haven’t been voted a raise in 10 years.

“I was always taught that what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong and when you see something you should say it’s wrong even though it doesn’t involve you,” Hargrave said in the video.

She urged others not to be silenced either.

“I’m hoping that you choose to speak out after seeing what happened to me and you don’t let it become an intimidation to you, you let it be your strength because it’s slowly becoming mine,” Hargrave said.

“Please don’t let the conversation end with me,” she said. “Use your First Amendment right, exercise your right to gather and speak,” she said.

—New York Daily News


Fake dealer planned to steal customer’s weed money. It didn’t work out, police say

WACO, Texas — “No, this is not a made up story,” the Waco Police Department wrote on Facebook Thursday.

It’s a case that has Waco police searching for one teen with a gun, and hoping the other teen involved “makes some better and more legal career choices in the future,” said the investigating sergeant.

One teenage boy set up a fake drug deal Wednesday night at a local high school’s track, planning to run off with his more “heavyset” customer’s weed money.

But it didn’t work out quite the way he planned.

The customer pulled a gun on the would-be thief and stole his cellphone instead, police say. According to the post, police responded to the intersection of 60th Street and Glasgow Drive, where Tennyson Middle School is located and are classifying the incident as aggravated robbery.

Waco Police Sergeant Patrick Swanton said the suspect is a black male, 15-16 years old. He is around 5-feet-2 and weighs approximately 150 pounds.

The victim, who originally planned to rob the suspect, originally told police he knew the suspect from school. He then said he didn’t know the suspect’s name — that he only had it on Facebook and Instagram — and without his phone, the only item stolen in the robbery, he couldn’t identify the suspect.

The teen who set up the fake drug deal was not arrested and will not face any charges, Swanton said. He was “released back to the safety of his grandparents,” according to the Waco Police Department Facebook post.

—Fort Worth Star-Telegram


Maduro may allow food aid in Venezuela in exchange for legitimacy

Facing an explosive crisis, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is considering allowing international food donations to enter his country, but wants the opposition to recognize the legitimacy of the controversial National Constituent Assembly, or NCA.

Maduro also wants to control the distribution of the food donations — so far denied entry by the government despite growing food shortages and looting — according to sources close to the situation.

The proposal has been under consideration during negotiations between the government and opposition this week in the Dominican Republic, said three sources. Two of the sources are diplomats who have been briefed on the conversations and the third is an opposition official.

The sources agreed that the arrival of humanitarian aid and the legitimacy of the NCA are two of the key issues under negotiation behind closed doors. Also on the agenda are the U.S. sanctions on the Maduro government and early presidential elections.

But the legitimacy of the Constituent Assembly would be difficult for opposition to accept. The umbrella Democratic Unity Roundtable — known as MUD — has repeatedly labeled it as a fraud organized by Maduro to seize total and unchallenged control of the nation.

“Accepting the Constituent Assembly means surrendering the country. It is legitimizing the regime’s staying in power and driving the final nail into the casket of freedom in Venezuela,” said Diego Arias, a former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations who lives in New York.

Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado agreed. “Any decision taken in the Dominican Republic to accept (the NCA) or even ignore it would be absolutely unacceptable to us,” she said.

—El Nuevo Herald


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