World and Nation

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Officials defend decision to run the marathon

NEW YORK — Mary Wittenberg, chief executive of New York Road Runners, defended the decision to put on the New York City Marathon as scheduled Sunday after some runners and politicians called for the race to be canceled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

“This isn’t about running; this is about helping the city,” Wittenberg said Thursday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, where runners were starting to register for the race. “We’re dedicating this race to the lives that were lost and helping the city recover. We want to raise money and awareness.”

Before the hurricane, Road Runners was expecting to raise about $34 million for about 300 charities. Wittenberg said this year’s race could be used as a platform for charities that would directly help people affected by the storm.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who supports the marathon partly because it generates hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, repeated Thursday that he expected the race to be held. Wittenberg said Wednesday that the decision to run the race was ultimately his.

—Mary Pilon and Ken Belson, The New York Times

Amsterdam mayor says cannabis coffee shops will remain open

PARIS — Amsterdam’s 220 coffee shops, where marijuana and hashish are openly sold and consumed, will remain open next year in spite of a new Dutch law meant to reduce drug tourism, the city’s mayor said in an interview published Thursday.

The mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that he had made the decision after considering the unintended consequences that would arise from a ban, including a revival of black market trade. He also noted that the current system allowed for the government to monitor the quality of “soft” drugs and to limit access to the coffee shops to those 18 and older, something that would be impossible if the trade were again to become clandestine.

“The 1.5 million tourists will not say, ‘then no more marijuana,’”

The Dutch have long tolerated the coffee shops, although the sale of marijuana remains technically illegal. But tolerance has come under fire, partly from concern about the criminality that surrounds the supply, which originates in places like Afghanistan, Lebanon and Morocco.

But it was a growing traffic nuisance in southern municipalities like Maastricht, where Belgians and Germans drove to buy drugs, that proved the tipping point. The Dutch government announced two years ago that sales to nonresidents would be prohibited nationwide on Jan. 1, 2013. Only Dutch residents who registered with a coffee shop would be legally allowed to go to the coffee shops, which were to be turned into members-only clubs.

—David Jolly, The New York Times

Car and truck sales for October rose, despite storm

DETROIT — Major automakers reported that vehicle sales in October were depressed in the month’s final days when Hurricane Sandy forced hundreds of dealerships to close and consumers delayed car purchases in New York, New Jersey and other areas in the storm’s path.

Sales in October had been running at a strong pace until the storm. Analysts had been predicting an annual sales rate of about 14.7 million vehicles for the month but now say the rate will fall about 300,000 short of that.

Still, most car companies reported increases for the month overall, an indication that the industry’s slow but steady recovery is continuing.

Sales at General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker, rose 4.7 percent during October to 195,000 vehicles.

Ford said its sales edged up 0.4 percent during the month to 168,000 vehicles, while Chrysler reported a 10 percent increase to 126,000 vehicles. Both companies reported big gains in the sales of their smallest, most fuel-efficient passenger cars.

—Bill Vlasic, The New York Times

San Francisco questions maker of energy drinks about safety

In the latest action aimed at the energy drink industry, the top lawyer for the city of San Francisco has asked one major producer to provide evidence that supports the advertising and marketing claims it made to adolescents for its highly caffeinated drinks.

In a letter sent late Wednesday to Monster Beverage, the city attorney of San Francisco, Dennis J. Herrera, told the company to substantiate its claim that large daily quantities of Monster Energy were safe for adolescents and adults.

Herrera also told Monster, a publicly traded company, to produce support for its promotional slogans, like one that claims that consumers of Monster Energy “can never get too much of a good thing!”

In taking the action, Herrera cited a section of a California state law that makes it illegal for a company to make false or misleading advertising claims that purport to be based on fact or clinical data.

In a statement, Monster Beverage said: “The company can document the legal basis by which its products are properly labeled dietary supplements, and third party scientific documentation substantiates their safety.”

The energy drink industry and Monster Beverage in particular has come under intensifying scrutiny since last week after disclosures that the Food and Drug Administration had received reports that the deaths of five people since 2009 may be linked to Monster Energy drinks.

—Barry Meier, The New York Times