N.Y. Times tower is scaled twice

NEW YORK - A midtown Manhattan skyscraper that houses the New York Times was scaled yesterday in two daredevil stunts hours apart.

The first climber, Frenchman Alain Robert, 45, unfurled a banner as he scaled the 52-story tower that read: "Global warming kills more people than a 9/11 every week." He was arrested when he reached the top, amd police said he faced charges of reckless endangerment, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

Hours later, a second man ascended the tower and he, too, was arrested at the top. Officers became concerned that he might be an emotionally disturbed copycat, and he was taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, according to police, who identified him as Renaldo Clarke, 32, of Brooklyn.

The facade of the newly constructed tower is covered with slats that allowed the men to climb it like a ladder.

- AP

2 spacewalkers work on new lab

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Spacewalking astronauts worked on the outside of Japan's shiny new science lab yesterday, installing cameras and removing covers.

Dressed head to toe in white, Michael Fossum and Ronald Garan Jr. looked like puffy dolls against the 37-foot-long, 14-foot-wide Kibo lab, which is now the biggest room at the space station.

It was their second space walk in three days at the shuttle-station complex, orbiting 210 miles above Earth. The shuttle Discovery's astronauts delivered and installed Kibo earlier in the week.

Today, the astronauts are to attach a storage shed to Kibo that was dropped off by a shuttle crew in March. Tomorrow, they are to test-drive Kibo's 33-foot robot arm. A final space walk is planned for Sunday.

- AP

Senate confirms new HUD chief

WASHINGTON - Steven Preston, a former head of the Small Business Administration, has won Senate confirmation as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Preston, 47, replaces Alphonso Jackson, who resigned amid a federal criminal probe into contracts awarded by the department. The new secretary, whom President Bush nominated in April, was approved unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday night.

As HUD secretary, Preston will be Bush's lead voice on housing issues as officials seek ways to stem foreclosures amid the worst housing market since the Great Depression.

- Bloomberg News

Elsewhere:

Tornadoes dropped

onto the Great Plains yesterday after forecasters had warned of a potentially historic outbreak, doing little harm early on but spooking a pair of circus elephants in Kansas that escaped their enclosure. They were later captured.

The Catholic League

for Civil and Religious Rights, a watchdog group, is protesting a student art show at New York's Cooper Union in which religious symbols, including a crucifix and a rosary, are depicted in sexually explicit paintings. Cooper Union responded that the show was curated by architecture, engineering and art faculty and that "hundreds of student works are shown annually without censorship."