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News Briefs I

Five Are Indicted in Arizona Youth Camp Death

Los Angeles Times

An Arizona grand jury on Thursday indicted five former employees of Arizona Boys Ranch, charging that the four camp workers and a staff nurse were responsible for the March 2 death of a Sacramento, Calif., boy at the paramilitary-style boot camp for juvenile offenders.

The indictments by the Pinal County, Ariz., panel were the first criminal charges in the seven-month old case, which has brought about legislative changes, stricter licensing and oversight guidelines and has all-but closed Boys Ranch, a 50-year-old juvenile rehabilitation facility with a national reputation.

The employees charged were among those who worked most closely with 16-year-old Nicholaus Contreraz, who died while being physically punished. The boy was cleared for rigorous exercise, despite repeated complaints to the nurse that he was ill.

Indicted were camp nurse Linda Babb, and four "work specialists" - Geoffrey Sean Lewis, Montgomery Clayton Hoover, Michael Martin Moreno, and Troy Michael Jones. Four of the defendants live in Tucson, Ariz., Hoover is from Sierra Vista, Ariz. Each was charged with one count of child abuse and one count of manslaughter, and faces a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison for each count. Arraignment was scheduled for Oct. 23.

U.S., North Korean Negotiators Resume Talks

Los Angeles Times

U.S. and North Korean negotiators met in New York on Thursday for the first time in 16 months, resuming high-stakes talks that a jittery West hopes will rein in the hermit nation's growing missile development and export programs.

The two-day session comes just over a month after the Communist regime surprised and angered its neighbors, as well as Washington, by launching a satellite that the United States initially believed to be a ballistic missile.

Although the solid-fueled third stage of the rocket failed and the small satellite payload was destroyed, the rocket flew in an arc over Japan, raising fears in Tokyo of unexpected military vulnerability.

"The three-stage (rocket) means they are much further along than we had thought, much further along," in efforts to build long-range missiles, a senior U.S. official warned.

He called the Pyongyang regime "the only government in the world that's truly dangerous" to world peace because of its known nuclear potential and immediate military threat to South Korea, where the United States maintains 37,000 troops.

Russia Suffers Currency Scare

The Washington Post

Russia's battered economy was thrown into a new panic Thursday by reports that the government of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov was planning to ban or restrict the flow of dollars.

Primakov later denied any such intentions, but nonetheless a firestorm of criticism was ignited over a document calling for tight new limits on hard currency authored by the first deputy prime minister, Yuri Maslyukov, the former head of the Soviet central planning agency. The text was leaked and printed in full in the pro-market newspaper Kommersant Daily.

Among other things, the document suggested the government was considering harsh measures to take control of foreign currency, putting it under the purview of the Bank of Russia, and making it difficult for banks and people to exchange and transfer hard currency.

Billions of dollars are held by Russian citizens and businesses who do not trust their own currency, the ruble.