POLITICAL LANDSCAPE:

Assemblyman Paul Krekorian will host a workshop in Burbank designed to educate constituents on how to protect against identity theft.

“Identity theft is one of our fastest-growing crimes,” Krekorian said. “Unfortunately it is likely that many of us know someone who has been victimized. Identity protection begins with informed, aware consumers and these workshops will explain how to reduce vulnerability to theft and what to do if you become a victim.”

The workshop is slated for 7 to 8:30 p.m. on April 17 at the Buena Vista Library meeting room at 300 N. Buena Vista St., Burbank.

“I urge all to attend and learn how to fight the potentially ruinous effects of identity theft,” Krekorian said. “Local law enforcement, state and county identity-theft specialists, will explain how to avoid being a victim, how fraud happens, some of the various scams now in use and what to do if you are victimized.”

The Burbank event will be co-hosted by the Burbank Police Department and the California Office of Privacy Protection.

“I very much hope that as many people as possible will take advantage of these timely and important workshops,” Krekorian said.

For more information, call Krekorian's Glendale district office at (818) 240-6330.

Committee passes anti-predator bill

The Assembly Public Safety Committee on Thursday passed a bill authored by Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, a Republican whose district includes La Crescenta, that would make posting a minor's photo on pornographic websites a crime.

The legislation came in response to reported incidents of adult men secretly taking photos of teenage water polo players at an Orange County high school then juxtaposing the images with gay pornographic content on adult websites, Smyth said.

“As a former athlete and as a parent of two young boys I found it appalling not only that this activity was happening, but there was no legal recourse for the parents,” Smyth said. “There is no protection for these minors whose images were placed on these pornographic websites next to very hard-core images and it's also a safety issue because the athlete is easily identified and the school logo or school name can be seen on their [uniform].”

Smyth said the sites involved in the Orange County case included graphic viewer comments about the boys in the photos.

The pending legislation would criminalize the preparation and publication of an image of a minor without the minor's knowledge or consent, on an adult Internet website. Such acts would be punishable by imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, or by a fine of no more than $5,000, or both.

The bill's current movement through the Legislature could be setting the table for lively debate centered on free speech, Internet freedom rights and privacy law.

“There are constitutional hurdles we have to get over because you're dealing with images and technically the kids are not nude,” Smyth said. “They're not child pornographic images, so we're trying to be very specific and surgical in our approach so that we get the intended benefit without and any ancillary impacts on legitimate photographers or businesses.”

But Smyth said the bill's seemingly widespread bipartisan support — it passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee unanimously — is a promising sign.

“The Republicans and Democrats alike on the committee recognized the importance of this and passed it out unanimously while we still try to work out the constitutional issues,” he said. “This bill's just an example of what the public expects from its legislators: To put aside partisanship to take action to try to protect our kids, so I was very encouraged.”

The bill's next test will come in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where its likely to be scheduled for a hearing in April or May, Smyth said.

Sherman rebuts McCain speech

When Sen. John McCain rolled through Southern California last week, the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican party spoke to military families in Chula Vista on Monday, at a round table with Latino business people in Orange County Tuesday and to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council Wednesday.

On Thursday, Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman, whose district includes a portion of Burbank, rebutted many of the claims McCain made during his talk to the world affairs council.

“I took aim at his idea that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror,” he said. “The reason for that, McCain is saying, is that [Osama] Bin Laden says it is. Bin Laden may be lying.”

McCain also stressed the need for American troops to stay in Iraq.

“The national security argument is that the terrorists have a place to plot against us,” Sherman said. “What kind of enormous national ego do we have? The [Sept. 11, 2001] attack was plotted in an apartment in Hamburg. To say we need to stay in Iraq is absurd.”

The Arizona senator also expressed his support for extending America's free trade agreements throughout South America, saying, “Ours can be the first completely democratic hemisphere, where trade is free across all borders, where the rule of law and the power of free markets advance the security and prosperity of all.”

For Sherman, the chair of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Nonproliferation, McCain's comments represented an example of how the Republican would continue what he believes to be the failed policies of the past.

“Usually when you have a failure, you look the other way but you take our five-year experience in Iraq and of [the North American Free Trade Agreement], which can be considered a failure, he is continuing failed policies,” he said.

Sherman has endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton and plans to campaign for her in Pennsylvania before that states April 22 Democratic primary.


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