Opinion L.A.
Observations and provocations from The Times' Opinion Staff
Internet posse on the heels of national parks 'art' vandal

What is the difference between art and vandalism? In the case of one hiking artist, it’s where she allegedly painted her images: On rock formations in national parks.

The National Park Service has confirmed five paintings – probably hard-to-remove acrylic – that have been done in Yosemite, Death Valley, Crater Lake, Zion and Canyonlands national parks. Rangers today were trying to verify other reported acts of vandalism in the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Rocky Mountain, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.

These atrocious acts of criminal self-indulgence first came to light through postings on Instagram by someone calling herself Creepytings which included photos of the paintings, with a "Creepytings" signature. A couple of blogs catering to hikers picked up on it, linked the Creepytings Instagram account to someone named Casey Nockett, and launched an Internet firestorm that now includes a petition at the White House to have Nockett prosecuted. Nockett could not be reached for...

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Daniele Watts charged with lewd conduct: Revenge or reasonable?

Race or retaliation: What motivated both the initial police stop of and the ensuing misdemeanor charges against actress Daniele Watts?

These questions have dominated the comments surrounding Tuesday's story about misdemeanor lewd-conduct charges being filed against Watts and her boyfriend, Brian Lucas.

If you recall, there was quite a response across social media and traditional media after Watts wrote on her Facebook page about last month's encounter, casting it as having been motivated by racial prejudice -- she is black and her boyfriend is white. However, as the story progressed, with the release of an audio recording of the exchange with officers, public support began to shift somewhat and community leaders who spoke publicly on her behalf transitioned to reprimanding her for crying racial-profiling wolf. 

The response from latimes.com readers continues to be passionately mixed now that the city attorney's office has filed charges against the couple, with some continuing to...

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Endorsement video: Vote yes on Prop. 48 and let the North Fork tribe build a casino

There's a temptation to view Proposition 48 as a larger statement on Indian gambling in California. But the ballot measure isn't a policy question on off-reservation casinos, it's a referendum on a specific gambling agreement.

Proposition 48 asks voters to OK or reject an agreement that lets the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians build a casino near the Central Valley town of Madera. That’s 38 miles away from the tribe’s established reservation.

 A “yes” vote would approve the tribe’s agreement, which was negotiated by Gov. Jerry Brown and approved by the Legislature. A “no” vote would reject that agreement and force the governor to negotiate a new deal with tribe.

The Times Editorial Board recommends a “yes” vote.

First, consider this. Proposition 48 has become a fight between the tribes that have casinos and the tribes that want them.

Tribes in the Central Valley that have casinos, and their financial backers, have spent $16 million to put Proposition 48 on the ballot in an attempt...

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Prop. 47 will bring some rationality to sentences for low-level crimes

Initiatives are a poor way to do lawmaking, especially when it comes to criminal sentencing laws. It’s partly how California got into its current over-incarceration mess, with ballot measures that were public responses to high-profile crimes.

But we’ve also seen that the preferred way -- the Legislature -- isn’t much better. Lawmakers like to write bills that respond to high-profile crimes with get-tough sentences, so they can look like men and women of action, and so they can curry favor with the public and with powerful law enforcement interest groups. Or even other interest groups.

The Legislature is supposed to be more flexible than the initiative process, but it only seems to be able to add crimes and increase sentences, not reduce them, and it never seems to be able to find useful amounts of money to prevent crime, to treat mentally ill and addicted offenders, even to help crime victims.

Lawmakers won’t create a sentencing commission to remove the panic and the politics from...

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California is lucky to have the unusual, unstoppable Jerry Brown

I'll have what he's having.

Jerry Brown, that is.

Even as he cakewalks his way to an unprecedented fourth term as governor of California — a pretty big deal, even for a political scion — Brown doesn't appear to be slowing down or, for that matter, thinking about the possibility of slowing down.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Times' Seema Mehta and Michael Finnegan, the frenetic septuagenarian governor argues, I would say credibly, that he "govern[s] from a base of enormous experience" that's "very helpful."

Experience seems to be something that the governor wants to gain more of. Not as president of the United States — he has already ruled that out — but possibly returning to his old gig in a hardscrabble port city that is, depending on your point of view, either turning hip or getting gentrified into oblivion.

"I wouldn't mind being mayor of Oakland," Brown said. "But I don't know, when I'm 80½, whether I'll have the same appetite. I'm very excited doing this job."

Here we must...

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Tech group tells Hollywood the sky isn't falling

Every few months, the entertainment industry and its allies put out another report for policymakers on the toll that the Internet and changing technology are taking on filmmakers, musicians, authors and the companies that finance many of their works. For example, it may be an estimate of the revenue lost to online piracy, or a list of the foreign sites that help Internet users obtain free (and illegal) copies of movies and albums.

On Thursday, a Washington-based tech trade group offered lawmakers and the administration a more optimistic perspective. The report by the Computer and Communications Industry Assn., dubbed "The Sky Is Rising," focuses on the opportunities that technology is creating for artists to make, promote, distribute and build an audience for their work, and to develop new sources of revenue.

The point, said lead author Mike Masnick of Floor64 (and the TechDirt.com blog), is to show that the technology and creative industries are intertwined in a good way, not locked...

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