World and Nation

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Extra vitamin D and calcium aren’t necessary, report says

The very high levels of vitamin D that are often recommended by doctors and testing laboratories and can be achieved only by taking supplements — are unnecessary and could be harmful, an expert committee says. It also concludes that calcium supplements are not needed.

The group said most people have adequate amounts of vitamin D in their blood supplied by their diets and natural sources like sunshine, the committee says in a report that is to be released Tuesday.

Over the past few years, the idea that nearly everyone needs extra calcium and vitamin D — especially vitamin D — has swept the nation.

With calcium, adolescent girls may be the only group that is getting too little, the panel found. Older women, on the other hand, may take too much, putting themselves at risk for kidney stones. And there is evidence that excess calcium can increase the risk of heart disease, the group wrote.

Cables highlight dilemma of Guantanamo detainees

WASHINGTON — Last year, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia proposed an unorthodox way to return Guantanamo Bay prisoners to a chaotic country like Yemen without fear that they would disappear and join a terrorist group — implant an electronic chip in each detainee to track his movements, as is sometimes done with horses and falcons.

“Horses don’t have good lawyers,” a U.S. official replied.

That discussion in March 2009 was one of hundreds recounted in a cache of secret State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of news organizations that reveal painstaking U.S. efforts to safely reduce the population of the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

U.S. diplomats went looking for countries that were not only willing to take in former prisoners but could be trusted to keep them under close watch. In a global bazaar of sorts, the officials sweet-talked and haggled with foreign counterparts in efforts to resettle detainees who were cleared for release but could not be repatriated for fear of mistreatment, the cables show.

Retailers say online holiday sales remain strong

Online shoppers started buying on Thanksgiving and did not let up on so-called Cyber Monday, the day retailers designated for more discounts and promotions. By 6 p.m. on Monday, Eastern time, sales were 20 percent higher than during the same time period on the Monday after Thanksgiving a year ago, according to Coremetrics, a research firm owned by IBM that tracks online sales.

Cyber Monday was created five years ago to encourage people to shop online from work, where they could use a high-speed Internet connection that they lacked at home. The day has evolved into a way for online retailers to keep the spending that began in earnest on the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, going.

In fact,, the online arm of the National Retail Federation, a trade group, said the percentage of people shopping online from work on Monday was expected to drop more than 1 percentage point from last year, to 12.1 percent.

Industrywide, online retail sales for the month through Nov. 26 were up 13 percent, to $11.6 billion, according to comScore.