Cocaine has edged out methamphetamine as the principal drug threat to the United States. That’s the conclusion of the latest National Drug Threat Survey, which polled state and local law enforcement agencies for their assessment of the drug problem in their areas.

Authorities thought they were putting a big dent in the cocaine trade earlier this year, when 38 big drug “markets” in the United States reported cocaine shortages on the street. But as of last month, many now see a rebound in supplies, the National Drug Intelligence Center reports.

The strength and reach of Mexican and Asian traffickers is growing across the United States, particularly for meth.

Those dealers — along with others in Canada — have stepped in to fill the gap in domestic production, which has fallen after crackdowns on the sale of ingredients used to make the hugely addictive drug.

The elections last week (Nov. 6) brought victories to dozens of gay and lesbian candidates across the country. At least 31won their races for everything from city council spots in Fort Worth, Texas, and Doraville, Ga., to mayorships in Ferndale, Mich., and Maywood, N.J. Transgender incumbent Michelle Bruce got the most votes in the race for a Riverdale, Ga., city council seat, but now faces a runoff.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund said it had endorsed 71 openly homosexual candidates this election season.

An Illinois lawmaker says his new bill will make cents for the economy and taxpayers. GOP Rep. Peter Roskam recently introduced what he calls the “Cents and Sensibility Act of 2007,” which would change the composition of the penny to reduce the amount of pricey metals it contains. With metal prices so high these days, it costs more to make a penny — 1.7 cents — than the coin is worth.

Roskam wants us to follow the Canadians, who use copper-coated steel rather than the copper-coated zinc alloy we use. Those pennies would cost just 7/10 of a cent to make. Roskam calculates the savings would be more than $1 billion over the next decade.

Beginning this month, Air Force veterans will have a smaller honor guard at their funerals thanks to the service’s efforts to shrink its overall ranks by more than 40,000.

Instead of the previous 10-person funeral unit, vets now will have only seven honor guardsmen to be pall bearers, flag holders, buglers, riflemen and flag presenters at their final ceremony, the service announced.

Even as the Army and Marines are boosting their ranks by the thousands, the Air Force has cut its active-duty force by 25,000 over the past two years, and is slated to lose another 17,000 over the next two years. The goal is to have 316,500 in the service by the start of the 2009 fiscal year.

Part of that decrease is attributed to an expected increase in the number of unmanned aircraft used to fight wars. And that future took a big step closer Wednesday (Nov. 7) when the MQ-9A Reaper dropped a precision-guided bomb — the first time a drone has done so in U.S. military history.

The Reaper, which has flown 49 combat sorties since it landed in September in Afghanistan, is capable of tracking the enemy for long distances and over time, and, now, unleashing 500-pound laser-directed smart bombs on a target.

Its first combat strike — which also made the history books — came Oct. 27, when it fired a Hellfire missile at insurgents in Deh Rawod, Afghanistan.

(E-mail Lisa Hoffman at hoffmanl(at)

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