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Opinion L.A.
Observations and provocations from The Times' Opinion Staff
Possible 'hybrid' Net neutrality rules get chilly reception

Internet service providers, Web-based entrepreneurs and consumer groups are sharply divided over whether and how the Federal Communications Commission should try to preserve the Net's status as an open, neutral platform for innovation.

Now, in trying to find a middle ground, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler may be moving onto a more treacherous political and legal minefield. The maneuvering is yet another signal that Congress should craft neutrality rules specifically for broadband, rather than leaving the FCC to search for a way to do so under a law written before the first broadband lines reached consumers.

At issue is whether to treat broadband Internet service providers as "information-service providers" or "telecommunications carriers." According to the Wall Street Journal's Gautham Nagesh, Wheeler may try to do both.

Specifically, Nagesh reported that the chairman is warming to proposals floated by Mozilla and the Center for Democracy and Technology, among others, that would classify...

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Mentally disabled to get legal help in immigration cases

This is a court ruling that's sure to inflame the anti-immigration crowd. A U.S. District Court judge this week ordered the federal government to begin mental-disability screening for those detained in three states on suspicion of being in the country illegally, and to provide lawyers for those determined unable to represent themselves in removal hearings.

It was the right call.

Under immigration law, noncitizens caught without legal permission to be in the country -- whether they sneaked across a border or overstayed a visa -- are subject to an immigration court removal proceeding. They have a right to legal counsel if they can find a lawyer, but unlike criminal courts, the government has no responsibility to provide a lawyer for those who can’t afford one.

So fewer than half of the detainees have lawyers in a system built on pro bono attorneys or those working for immigration-rights nonprofits. And having a lawyer matters. A number of studies have found that detainees represented by...

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Why UC Berkeley got it wrong on Bill Maher's speech

There’s been a great deal of celebration about UC Berkeley sticking to its invitation to Bill Maher as a commencement speaker. Free speech in the cradle of the free speech movement, students should be open to provocative views that differ from their own, and all that. Maher’s invitation was decried by some student groups because of his recent questioning of Islam as a religion that he saw as perhaps inherently more violent and intolerant than others.

I think Cal is wrong.

Don’t misunderstand. As a journalist and a fierce advocate of the right—the necessity—of providing forums for uncomfortable and dissenting speech, I think Maher and all manner of such speakers belong on campus, almost all the time.

Just not at commencement.

Commencement is a ceremony that belongs to the graduating students and their families. And though many of the best commencement speeches discomfit their audiences—what better way to inspire people to action than by making them uncomfortable with the status quo?—no...

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Sorting through misleading ads for the real Proposition 45

Would the real Proposition 45 please stand up?

One of the main arguments advanced by the commercials aired and the torrent of mailers sent by the No on 45 campaign is that the measure would place healthcare in the hands of a single corruptible politician. "Who do you trust with your health care," a recent mailer asks, "a politician or your doctor? Prop. 45 gives one Sacramento politician control over medical treatment options."

It's as if the No on 45 folks were trying to unleash the same "government takeover of healthcare" demon that Republican strategists employed so effectively in the debate over the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

In this case, the attack is misleading, if not flat-out wrong, in at least a couple of significant ways. The first of these is that the measure wouldn't affect most Californians' health insurance, let alone their healthcare.

Proposition 45 would expand Proposition 103, the 1988 initiative to toughen the regulation of property and casualty insurance, so that it...

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How Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox sullied her heroine status

Maine officials are seeking court authority to give keep Kaci Hickox indoors after she refused to obey their imposition of a quarantine on her. In the meantime, though, she should stop acting like she's being forced to undergo two weeks of unconstitutional torture.

Frankly, in matters Ebola, it’s hard to find anyone who makes perfect sense. Hickox -- the nurse who served a noble tour of duty in Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone and gained public sympathy when she was quarantined under unfair and terrible conditions upon her arrival in New Jersey -- has a good point when she says that the science shows Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear. She remains without symptoms.

At the same time, home in Maine, she is violating quarantine, going out bicycling. Again, she’s not going to sicken anyone on a bike. But neither is she entitled to write the rules of her quarantine.

Moreover, she has said that she could see her way clear to not coming in close contact with the public -- for example,...

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The best response to this year's most offensive Halloween costumes

Halloween: formerly a holiday for exercising your pumpkin-based creativity, bonding with your peculiarly dressed pals and, most importantly, getting a boatload of free candy, is not-so-slowly cementing its status as a race to the bottom. From sexy Ebola nurses to gun-toting jihadis, the people of the Internet have truly outdone themselves this year with wildly inappropriate and offensive costumes.

Whether it's health epidemics, desert-lurking murderers or violent athletes, those planning to dress for distress are truly covering all angles. Let's hear it for inclusivity!

But while social media sites have gone into overdrive slamming these questionable wardrobe choices, perhaps we should scale back on our angry responses. The majority of these costume crimes seem to be committed by people who are fairly youthful (albeit clearly old enough to know better and young enough not to care), and if we all got heated about every misguided jerk, the world would be a pretty dark place.

Plus, how PG...

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