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  1. Florida Politics

Convention notebook: Fallen officers remembered, history continues, Philly cheesesteak brouhaha

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have each described the other as unfit to be trusted with classified information.

But as is customary for the official nominees of both parties, the two candidates will get their first intelligence briefing as early as next week.

U.S. intelligence officials will soon contact the two campaigns to schedule a wide-ranging briefing for each on global flashpoints, the status of American military campaigns overseas and the latest maneuverings by foreign governments, both friend and foe.

This quadrennial rite of passage for presidential candidates usually takes place while few people pay attention. Not now. Recent statements on the campaign trail, and barbed accusations by both candidates about their opponent's ability to handle classified information, have focused attention on the intelligence briefings and raised questions about how much — or how little — the spies will share with the candidates.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence coordinates the briefings that the candidates will receive, and they will be conducted by intelligence briefers who will meet each candidate somewhere on the campaign trail, either at a nearby FBI field office or other secure government facility.

The information given to the candidates hardly amounts to the crown jewels of U.S. intelligence. Current and former government officials said the briefings were broad overviews of how U.S. spy agencies see the state of the world, similar to the briefing that James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, gives to Congress each year. The briefings will contain top secret information, but the candidates are given no information about ongoing covert action programs or the identities of intelligence sources.

During an appearance on Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum, Clapper said that the three most significant topics for the candidate briefings would be the threat of cyberattacks, the Islamic State and Russia.

"As a legal matter, the president can tell the nominees as much or as little as he believes is necessary or prudent," said Susan Hennessey of the Brookings Institution, adding that President Barack Obama has indicated that he will allow intelligence officials to make the determination about what information Trump and Clinton will receive.

"With all forms of sharing classified information, there is a strong tendency to err on the side of caution," she said.

Fallen officers remembered for their duty

On Tuesday, the convention heard from Mothers of the Movement, women whose unarmed African-American children had been killed by law enforcement or due to gun violence. On Thursday, family members of slain law enforcement officers addressed the delegates.

Wayne and Barbara Owens described the life of their son, Derek Owens, a Cleveland police officer was shot and killed as he and his partner chased four suspects in 2008. Mrs. Owens said he has left a legacy of love and "we don't want their sacrifice to ever be forgotten.

Wayne Lipscomb, mother of Moses Walker, a 19-year veteran of the Philadelphia police force killed in 2012, described finding presents he kept wrapped to give out to children who had none.

Thor Soderberg, a Chicago police officer working a detail dedicated to addressing youth violence, was slain July 7, 2010, when a man grabbed his gun and shot him.

His widow, Jennifer Loudon, told a story about her husband buying a belt for a boy accused of stealing one.

"When I lost Thor I never knew it was possible to lose so much... and I know in light of recent events, some of us lost faith," Loudon said. "But I want every American to remember Moses, Derek, Thor and all the officers who risk their lives to protect us."

Transgender activist has an entry in history books

Sarah McBride, a transgender woman, became the first openly trans person to address a national party convention when she joined Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., and members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus on stage Thursday.

"My name is Sarah McBride, and I am a proud transgender American," she said.

McBride, who works as the national press secretary at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, said she learned the urgency of achieving equal rights and protection for all people after the death of her husband Andrew. McBride said Andrew, a transgender man and a fellow LGBT activist, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away four days after their wedding in 2014.

His death inspired McBride to fight for lawmakers who will urgently for change.

"His passing taught me that every day matters," McBride said. "Hillary Clinton understands the urgency of our fight."

Celebrity salutes come via speeches and lyrics

Actor Mary Steenburgen, a friend of Hillary Clinton for 38 years, described her pal as a "world-class listener" who's all guts.

Clinton "loves to laugh, especially at herself," Steenburgen said Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Just ahead of the presidential nominee's big speech, Steenburgen called her friend "quick to forgive, sensitive, empathetic.".

When Clinton "gets knocked down seven times, she will get up eight," said Steenburgen, the daughter of an Arkansas train conductor. She was accompanied Thursday by her husband, actor Ted Danson.

Another star who took the stage was the legendary Carole King, who got delegates on their feet, swaying and singing along to her classic You've Got a Friend as they held hands.

"Hello, Idaho," she began, a shout-out for the state where she bought a ranch years ago. "Everybody, everybody sing with me."

Accompanied by a group of backup singers, King concluded, "Hillary's got so many friends, and Bernie, too, and all of us together, yeahhhh."

$1M offered to Trump if he releases taxes

Calls for Donald Trump to release his tax returns came have been gaining steam and they're now being fueled by a million-dollar bounty.

Moishe Mana, a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, has offered to donate $1 million dollars to the charity of Donald Trump's choice if he releases his tax returns, according to the Associated Press.

"Through his financial documents, we are trying to break into the image that he's portraying to the American people," Mana said. "He says he's a successful businessman who wants to do for the country what he did for his company. Well, go ahead, show me the money."

Even Mitt Romney has called for the Republican nominee to release his tax returns. Romney, who was dogged by calls to release his own tax returns when he ran for president four years ago, said Trump should release them but won't.

"He will never, ever release his tax returns. He has too much to hide," Romney said.

There is no law mandating that presidential candidates release their tax returns but it has been customary for the candidates to release them since the 1970s.

Tweet heard 'round Philly was about a sandwich

Times political editor Adam C. Smith is used to not pleasing everyone with what he writes. That comes with the territory when your beat is politics.

However, on Thursday afternoon, he wrote something on Twitter that may have ticked off an entire city. Smith tweeted from his account, @adamsmithtimes: "Can we just acknowledge that Philly cheese steaks are mediocre to gross? #DemsInPhilly."

While the tweet received quite a few likes and even some retweets, it generated many more responses from people offended by Smith's culinary observations. As is often the case on Twitter, dissenters let Smith know what they thought by using comments, memes and even Photoshop. Among the responses suitable for print were:

@alexaa_speed: you've obviously never had a real Philly cheesesteak

@JonKerzetski: Leave.

@MattGrumbrecht: he just wanted to get attention

@King_Coop1: @adamsmithtimes Stick to your kale and quinoa

@jockerill: @adamsmithtimes Delete your account

@Mopkins15: Tampa Bay isn't even a real city

@JustDoIt_Mikey: The most disrespectful thing anyone could say, arguably the best sandwich in the world you (expletive)

@TAHenry87: @adamsmithtimes and who are you????

@k8macqueen: the BLASPHEMY

@Scarpydoo: @adamsmithtimes what the hell is wrong with you

Smith discussed the cheesesteak later Thursday with his colleague Amy Hollyfield. He acknowledged that this was the first time he had ever tried a Philly cheesesteak and said, "Not impressed. Sorry Philly, not impressed."

He explained that he had been warned not to go to the touristy restaurants. Instead, he went to Reading Terminal Market and asked a local which shop was best. "I got the sweet peppers. I got the onions," Smith explained.

And? How was it?

"It was adequate. It was fine. Had I been drunk, maybe I would have enjoyed it more," he answered. "People were saying you really need to do the actual Cheese Whiz. The death cheese. That day-glow stuff. I'm not doing that. So I went with provolone. Maybe that was my mistake."

Retired general gives impassioned defense of Clinton

Dozens of military brass joined retired Marine Gen. John Allen on the Democratic National Convention stage Thursday night to endorse Hillary Clinton.

Allen, who commanded troops in Afghanistan and worked with Clinton when she was secretary of state, gave an impassioned defense of Clinton's record and, without mentioning him by name, strongly criticized Trump's remarks on national security.

"I also know that with her as our commander in chief, our international relations will not be reduced to a business transaction," he said. "I also know that our armed forces will not become an instrument of torture, and they will not be engaged in murder, or carry out other illegal activities."

Allen is a former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, which is based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. He was one of several military officials whose email exchanges with Tampa socialite Jill Kelley were investigated.

Kelley, unwittingly set off a scandal in 2012 that led to the resignation of another top general, David Petraeus, as director of the CIA. Kelley went to the FBI after Petraeus' lover, Paula Broadwell, started emailing Gen. Allen and others with warnings about Kelley.

Although senior Defense Department officials had described some of the email between Allen and Kelley as racy and flirtatious, the Pentagon's inspector general determined the general had not violated military prohibitions against conduct unbecoming an officer.

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