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macon.com MIDDAY UPDATE: Hurricane Bertha could strengthen; man arrested after climbing up NYC skyscraper; old south Ga. tree to be spared from development

Forecasters say Hurricane Bertha could become stronger in the next day as it heads toward Bermuda.

It’s unknown if or when the hurricane will make landfall. Forecasters have been urging people on the island to monitor the storm’s progress.

As of about 11 a.m., the center of the storm was about 550 miles northeast of the northern Leeward Islands and about 715 miles southeast of Bermuda.

Maximum sustained winds are about 75 mph with some higher gusting. National Hurricane Center forecasters expect the storm to regain strength in the next 24 hours but say there is a lot of uncertainty in that prediction.

The Atlantic season’s first hurricane is traveling west-northwest at about 12 mph.

– Associated Press

Man arrested after climbing up NYC skyscraper

A man climbed part way up The New York Times’ 52-story headquarters early today, becoming the third person to scale the futuristic skyscraper in less than five weeks.

The climber, identified by the Times as David Malone, made it to the 11th floor of the building in midtown Manhattan before descending to a lower floor and spending hours making cell phone calls and talking to police. He was arrested about 5:30 a.m., police said.

Police said the climber was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center for evaluation; charges were pending.

At one point, the climber unfurled a banner on the ‘‘T’’ of the Times’ sign on its building that referred to Osama bin Laden, the Times reported on its Web site. Malone is the author of a book, ‘‘Bin Laden’s Plan,’’ that argues that Sept. 11 was part of a plot by al-Qaida to provoke the U.S. into invading Iraq, according to a summary on the Amazon.com bookseller site.

On June 5, daredevil Alain Robert and Renaldo Clarke separately climbed the Times building, which the newspaper company moved into last year. It is covered with slats that allowed the men to climb the tower like a ladder.

– Associated Press

Bryan County Commission agrees to spare old tree

A developer who wants to preserve an ancient live oak on property where he plans to build a convenience store has won his case.

Developer Greg Parker wants to build the store near the intersection of Highway 80 and 280 in the Bryan County community of Blichton, a few miles northwest of Savannah.

Parker says County Administrator Phil Jones told him the tree is too close to Highway 280 and would be a danger to motorists.

So Parker took his case to the county commission, which met on Tuesday and approved his plan to preserve the tree.

Parker says says the state Department of Transportation standard calls for a line of sight greater than 450 feet, and that standard will be met.

– Associated Press

WHAT'S COMING UP ON MACON.COM

– Stageworks-Kidztech Theatre Camp at the Douglass Theatre, a six-week day camp for midstate kids and teenagers, wraps up this week with a performance called "They Played the Douglass." The show will recreate performances by black greats who took the Douglass stage. We'll tell you more about it.

– Tonight's Vision 2020 meeting promises some intrigue. Three big issues are on the agenda -- animal shelter plans, weather sirens and a update on the possibility of bringing commercial flights to Robins Air Force Base. We'll tell you what happens.

VISIT US AGAIN SOON

We invite you to check out our Web site again tomorrow for the Midday Update. Monday through Friday, Online Editor Beth MacFadyen will bring you timely information about what Telegraph staffers are working on, plus news we think you need to know immediately. Send feedback to bmacfadyen@macon.com

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