Coke And The Colonel's Wife

The U.S. Army insists Col. James Hiett had no idea he might have been sleeping with the enemy. Since last summer, Hiett had been in command of the 200 American military personnel waging a difficult campaign against Colombia's drug traffickers. But according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., last week, Hiett's wife, Laurie Anne, 36, was using the mail service at the American Embassy in Bogota to send cocaine to the United States.

Court papers say the smuggling was discovered last May, when a Miami customs official found 2.7 pounds of cocaine in a package Mrs. Hiett had sent to someone in New York. Subsequently investigators tracked down six more packages allegedly sent by Laurie Hiett--or at her request--that contained 15.8 pounds of pure cocaine, with a street value of as much as $230,000.

Hiett surrendered to federal authorities in Brooklyn last week and was arraigned on a charge of conspiracy to distribute narcotics. After appearing in court, she was released on a $150,000 bond; she still had not been indicted. Through her lawyer, she denied any wrongdoing. The papers filed in court said she told investigators she sent the parcels as a favor to her husband's chauffeur, Colombian Jorge Alfonso Ayala. She insisted she didn't know what was inside.

Ayala, who was named as a co-conspirator and is still at large in Colombia, told investigators Mrs. Hiett "abused cocaine," which he helped her buy in Bogota.

Colombian authorities have long argued that America is to blame for the drug problem. Whether the colonel's wife is a dupe or a doper, the charges against her haven't done any good to the war on drugs.

EBOLAHome Remedy

A plant long eaten and brewed by West Africans has been found to kill the lethal Ebola virus in lab tests. Research presented last week to the International Botanical Congress in St. Louis shows compounds from the Garcina kola tree halt the replication of the virus without damaging cells. If primate trials are successful, lead researcher Dr. Maurice Iwu predicts the kola plant could become a new cash crop for Africa's strapped farmers. There's a side effect we could live with.

JAPANBailout Blues

Instead of spending vast sums to bail out its banks, Japan could have educated all the illiterate children in the developing world--and bought the Chicago Bulls. That's the premise behind the country's latest best seller, the kids' book "Bubble Fantasy: What Could That Money Have Bought?" Novelist Ryu Murakami compiled 128 things Japan might have done with the $70 billion it funneled into its failing banks. "I want readers to feel the magnitude of the money wasted," he told NEWSWEEK. With the $23.4 billion spent on the Hokkaido Takushoku Bank alone, Murakami figures Japan could have purchased an aircraft carrier, The New York Times and financed 25 remakes of "Titanic." Then again, maybe it was better to save the banks.

POWERWhat I Did on My Vacation

As the Clintons prepare to combine politics with pleasure in New York state this month, peri checked into how other leaders spend their summer vacation.

ZHU RONGJI: China bigs hit annual beach party in Beidaihe; top-level talks, roasted melon seeds

LEE TENG-HUI: One China, separate vacations. Taiwan's isolated boss sticks to the golf course.

TONY BLAIR: Tuscany cleaned up a polluted beach and renovated a villa for the Brit P.M.

GERHARD SCHRODER: German chancellor in Italy, too, but no beach- cleaning. Snubbed?

NELSON MANDELA: No dirty beaches for S. African retiree: takes over Blair's come fall

LIONEL JOSPIN: French P.M. reading, not relaxed? In '97 Diana made him rush back.

B. YELTSIN: Heat wave, fires end country stay. But probes and politics raise temps in Moscow.

Who Says Size Doesn't Matter?

The unofficial competition to construct the world's tallest building is gaining momentum. From Chicago to Melbourne, plans to surpass the current record holder, Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers, are in the works. These newfangled designs promise the latest in state-of-the-art technology and engineering. A look at the contenders:

7 South Dearborn (Chicago, U.S.A., Height: 610 m, 120 floors) Would boast the highest residential units in the world.

Citygate Ecotower (London, England, Height: 460 m, 108 floors) Eco-friendly: solar-cell cladding, ventilated facades and wind turbines.

The Landmark Tower (Hong Kong, Height: 574 m, 97 floors) Still more myth than mortar; if built, it would feature a 23-story naturally lit atrium.

Sao Paulo Tower (Sao Paulo, Brazil, Height: 495 m, 105 floors) Modeled on the Vedic temples of India; could accommodate 50,000 people.

Petronas Towers (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Height: 452 m, 88 floors) Currently the tallest building in the world, it has 32,000 windows.

Grollo Tower (Melbourne, Australia, Height: 560 m, 113 floors) Sun-loving Melbournians gripe about the long shadow it would cast.

THE FUTUREWe're History!

Scientists at the international Botanical Congress put a damper on millennial euphoria last week, announcing that fully two thirds of Earth's land species are likely to disappear by the end of the new century. Worse, the culprit is... us. The new estimate puts humanity into the lineup with the "big five" mass extinctions of the past, including the asteroid hit that toasted the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Sure, biology bounced back from that one, says biologist Peter Raven. It's just that it took 10 million years to do so. By that time, there won't be any future generations left for us to apologize to.


Restaurants from Irvine, Calif., to St. Petersburg, Fla., are in hot water with animal-rights groups for harboring Lobster Zone, a game that challenges diners to pick a live crustacean out of a tank with a rubber claw. Prize: a lobster dinner. The game's manufacturer says activists confuse "food-chain issues" with animal welfare.

TRAVELCheap Seats

Looking for a summer travel bargain? Lufthansa is the first airline to host live auctions on the Internet. Savvy bidders can purchase round-trip airfares at discount prices with a click of the mouse. Destinations include New York, Munich, Paris, Milan, Frankfurt and Beijing. This month's auctions are scheduled for Aug. 18 and 19 on the airline's U.S. site. How big are the bargains? Try two round-trip tickets from Los Angeles to Johannesburg for $1,360. Regular price--$5,164. Or how about a pair of tickets from Chicago to Munich for $780, half the normal price? Bon voyage.

FASHIONPants, Interrupted: Leg Warmers

Leg warmers are back, but forget the '80s version. This up-from-the-street style looks more like decapitated pants, held in place below the knee and flaring out in cotton, leather, fleece, nylon or faux fur. Leg warmers are big in Japan, but they're just getting a leg up in the United States. Sample NYC, the designers who pioneered the look stateside, claims inspiration from Japanese cartoons. Laugh now, but you may be wearing them next year.

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