Tiny Qatar's big role in the Mideast | June 30
The campaign to round up leakers
In Sunday's Times I read about another leak. This one told us that Qatar has used an arms network to move shoulder-fired missiles to Syrian rebels. The article further states that these could be used to shoot down civilian aircraft. As for the source, it was stated that "the officials spoke to the New York Times on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing intelligence." I hope these officials know that according to President Barack Obama's initiative, the insider threat program, "leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States."
That is why there is such a kerfuffle regarding Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who leaked information about spying on Americans. Last week Secretary of State John Kerry branded Snowden a "traitor to his country."
And it should be known that the Obama administration means business if you leak. It doesn't matter how high your rank. Gen. James Cartwright, the former second-ranking officer in the U.S. military, is being investigated for leaking information about the Stuxnet computer virus aimed at Iran.
I have to admit I'm a little confused about this whole mess of "leakers" and traitors. Why all of a sudden do we have people facing defamation and serious jail time to release supposedly secret information? And why is the Obama administration going full speed ahead to discredit and round up these leakers? Are these truly treasonous times in our war on terror, or should we start to become more curious about what is being done in our name?
Rick France, Tampa
Florida ranks dead last in dental care for poor kids | July 1
Dental help for thousands
This front-page article left out the leading Medicaid dental provider for children in Pinellas County.
The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County has six dental clinics in St. Petersburg, Largo, Pinellas Park, Clearwater and Tarpon Springs. We served more than 12,000 pediatric clients and provided more than 113,000 dental services in 2012.
In addition to serving the dental needs of children on Medicaid, we also provide services to uninsured children on a sliding-fee scale at our dental clinics.
Once a year, we provide services at no cost to uninsured children as part of our back to school events. In fact, last year's clinic at our mid county center in Largo was featured in one of the pieces that won a Pulitzer Prize for Tim Nickens and Daniel Ruth. Our services were mentioned in the articles in that series.
Dental care for children is part of our public health mission. The managed care changes in Medicaid dental services may be discouraging private sector dentists from providing care, but our commitment to the health of children in Pinellas remains constant.
For information about our dental clinics and their locations, go to http://www.pinellashealth.com/DentalHealth.asp.
Claude M. Dharamraj, M.D., director, Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, St. Petersburg
Pride, love on display | June 30
Moral fiber being lost
The moral fiber of this country is being chipped away, one piece at a time. We now celebrate unnatural acts such as homosexuality — we even glorify it with parades — and the list goes on.
It is legal to get an abortion on demand (without even the parents' knowledge); you can buy the morning-after pill without a prescription. Gambling is tearing apart families; alcoholism is rampart. Adultery and violence are glorified in the movies. Pornography is just a click away. Breaking the law is okay if you are an illegal alien or a politician.
What is next? Legalized drugs, polygamy — the list of possible perversions goes on and on.
My father-in-law was a missionary minister who always said that there is no country that can beat the United States in battle, but that we would destroy ourselves from within.
That is exactly what is happening today.
Jim Byers, St. Petersburg
State's gaming grows quietly | July 1
Downs, Gulfstream benefit
The writer of your front-page article on the growth of gambling in Florida missed the mark when addressing simulcasting of thoroughbred races in Florida.
The dispute between thoroughbred tracks is related solely to the distribution of revenue from simulcasting. Both Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs will now be able to control their simulcast destiny by being considered "host tracks" as opposed to being forced to contract through Calder Race Course and pay them a fee. This is the result of a broader interpretation of the definition of "live racing" by the Florida Department of Business Regulation.
Your article heavily quotes representatives of Calder, which is the only loser in this scenario. Purses at Gulfstream are already higher than Calder, and horsemen such as myself will benefit by higher purses this winter at Tampa Bay Downs. Both Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Downs have added employees for the additional live racing days, thus helping, not harming, local economies.
Finally, both Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs are owned by people who deeply care about thoroughbred racing in Florida as they both breed and race their horses here. Calder is owned by Churchill Downs, an out-of-state public company whose only real interest in horse racing in Florida is to run enough live days to keep its casino open.
As a longtime owner and breeder in Florida, I applaud the actions of Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Downs.
James Stackpoole, Lutz
200 new laws | June 30
Fraud times two
When the Legislature passed HB 95, declaring "that money given to charities by Ponzi schemers wouldn't have to be later returned to victimized investors if it was accepted in good faith," did the bill define "charities"? If the state's interpretation of "charities" is as expansive as the Internal Revenue Service's interpretation of "social welfare organizations," a lot of investors are going to be defrauded twice.
John Chamless, Pinellas Park