WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- United Press International's daily roundup of notable news, hot gossip and important events shaping politics and public policy in Washington and the world.
Rising star -- California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat in her seventh term, becomes the highest-ranking woman ever in the U.S. House of Representatives. Pelosi defeated Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer in the election for the post of minority whip, the No. 2 spot among House Democrats. A former public relations executive, she was first elected to the House in June 1987.
Where's Ernie -- Bert, the lovable Muppet who rooms with the equally lovable Ernie on the children's television program "Sesame Street," has unexpectedly appeared hovering behind Osama bin Laden in posters carried during recent anti-U.S. protests in Bangladesh. The posters were made by a company in Bangladesh that pulled pictures of bin Laden off the Internet. Apparently the orignal source for one of the photos used in creating the posters may have been the Web site "Bert is evil" that has long been a favorite of Net surfers. The spoof site, which links the Muppet to horrendous acts of terror and to notable evil figures, at one time featured a photo of bin Laden that had been doctored to include Bert. The folks at "Sesame Street" are reportedly not pleased.
Kansas split -- According to reports coming out of Kansas, moderate GOP Gov. Bill Graves has come out against splitting Douglas County between two congressional districts, as some Republicans have proposed. Splitting the county is, according to some, the best way for Republicans to ensure that the state's only Democrat member of Congress, Rep. Dennis Moore, is defeated in November 2002. Graves suggested Monday that Douglas County, which includes the city of Lawrence and the University of Kansas, be moved to the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Kansas. It now is in the 3rd District, which is centered on the state's portion of the Kansas City metropolitan area.
In -- U.S. Rep. John Thune, R-S.D., has reversed course and announced that he would be a candidate for the U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Tim Johnson in November 2002. Thune had been looking at a run for governor. Former U.S. Rep. Jim Talent, R-Mo., who narrowly lost a race for governor in 2000, has announced he will seek the Republican Party nomination for the seat currently occupied by Sen. Jean Carnahan, D-Mo., who acquired the seat under unusual circumstances. Carnahan has not yet indicated whether she will run next time.
Safety first -- In the rush to make the nation's air travel safer, several proposals have been put forward to put airport baggage screeners under federal control. Watch for Capitol Hill conservatives to raise a red flag here, coming out against nationalization of the airport work force. Meanwhile, rumors abound that several unions, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, are in a tussle over who would get the right to organize them.
Floor watch -- The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to produce a final markup of trade promotion uthority legislation -- also known as fast-track trade authority -- sometime this week in hopes that it can be passed on the House floor by early next Tuesday.
Got a tip for UPI's Capital Comment? Send it to CapComm@UPI.com