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Hastings takes top post

Miramar Democrat Rep. Alcee Hastings was tapped as chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, better known as the Helsinki Commission.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who rebuffed Hastings' bid to become House Intelligence Committee chair, made the selection Thursday.

Hastings will be the first African-American to chair the commission and said in a release he plans to "continue his trailblazing work in the areas of human rights, economic development and parliamentary diplomacy."

He acknowledged that few people know what the Helsinki Commission is or what it does.

"Trust me, this will change dramatically over the next two years," said Hastings, adding that with the designation and his roles on the House rules and intelligence committee, "few members of Congress face such a challenging agenda and fewer still are given such an opportunity to meet these challenges."