American Scene: Cranes install spire base at World Trade Center

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NEW YORK — Workers using two giant cranes on the 104th-floor roof of 1 World Trade Center have installed the first piece of the spire that will make it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

The nearly 70-ton piece was brought to Manhattan last month by barge. It is the heaviest of 18 parts of the spire that will complete the 1,776-foot skyscraper symbolizing America’s freedom.

Dozens of construction workers were on hand Tuesday as the massive, round piece of steel slowly descended into its socket.

Below is a view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

ILLINOIS

18 heads found at airport were sent for cremation

CHICAGO — A shipment of 18 human heads held up by customs officials at O’Hare International Airport was bound for a cremation service in the Chicago area after its use in medical research abroad.

A spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, Mary Paleologos, said Tuesday that the heads originally were sent from Illinois to Italy for medical research and were returned to the area for disposal as part of the agreement.

She said a paperwork problem held up the shipment, which arrived at O’Hare in mid-December.

The containers were being stored at the Cook County morgue while authorities investigated the matter.

Ms. Paleologos said the heads will be turned over for cremation.

CALIFORNIA

Pilot changed course before ship hit bridge

SAN FRANCISCO — A newspaper report says the pilot of the empty oil tanker that sideswiped the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge made a course change immediately before clipping a support tower.

The San Jose Mercury News reported Tuesday that the captain, Guy Kleess, initially indicated that he planned to sail the 752-foot Overseas Reymar between two towers near the middle of the span on Jan. 7. But San Francisco port agent Peter McIsaac said Mr. Kleess then tried to steer the vessel through a different opening as he approached the bridge.

Mr. McIsaac said it is unclear why Mr. Kleess made the late course change in foggy conditions amid a strong current.

The Coast Guard continues to investigate the incident, which damaged about 30 feet of protective fender material but caused no structural damage to the bridge.

CALIFORNIA

NASA’s Curiosity rover preparing to drill on Mars

LOS ANGELES — NASA says the Curiosity rover should be ready to begin drilling on Mars soon.

It’s the most highly anticipated milestone since the six-wheel, nuclear-powered rover landed near the Martian equator five months ago.

Mission managers outlined the drilling plan Tuesday. Project manager Richard Cook said the team has chosen the site where Curiosity will test its drill for the first time. The spot contains a diverse sample of rocks from which the rover can pick.

Curiosity will drive to the location in the next several days and begin drilling in the next two weeks.

The team named the drilling site “John Klein” after a deputy project manager who died in 2011.

Curiosity is on a two-year mission to determine whether the dusty, cold planet was habitable.

LOUISIANA

Zoos to create homes for endangered animals

NEW ORLEANS — Two top zoos are creating a home where endangered antelope can roam and help repopulate their species on 1,000 acres in New Orleans.

More than two dozen species of hoofed animals and birds may live in the facility planned by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and New Orleans’ Audubon Nature Institute.

Of 28 species under consideration, about half are endangered, vulnerable or near threatened.

The new Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife will use most of the 1,400 acres of the Audubon Species Survival Center on New Orleans’ west bank near the Mississippi River. Audubon Nature Institute Ron Forman said construction should start this year and continue into 2018, with the first animals moving into enclosures next year.

FLORIDA

Funeral scheduled next month for Schwarzkopf

TAMPA — The funeral for Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf will be held at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York.

A West Point spokesman said Tuesday that the retired general’s family has scheduled the funeral for Feb. 28. Schwarzkopf was a 1956 graduate of the academy.

Schwarzkopf commanded the U.S.-led international coalition that drove Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait in 1991. He was 78 when he died in Tampa on Dec. 27.

He lived in retirement in Tampa, where he served in his last military assignment as head of U.S. Central Command.

At the peak of his postwar national celebrity, Schwarzkopf rejected suggestions that he run for office. After he retired from the military, he was active in raising money for Tampa-area charities.

HAWAII

Baby humpback whale stranded off coast dies

HONOLULU — A baby humpback whale that was found floundering in shallow waters off Hawaii’s Kawaikui Beach Park has died.

David Schofield, with NOAA’s Marine Mammal Response Network, said the carcass will be removed from the beach and taken to Hawaii Pacific University. Tissue will be taken in an effort to determine why the baby whale died.

KHON-TV reported that the whale died shortly before 9 p.m. Monday. A fisherman found it alive but in distress late in the afternoon. Mr. Schofield said the baby whale was stranded because it was separated from its mother. He said the calf was in poor shape when found.

Mr. Schofield said this is the time of year in which humpback whales are giving birth. He said four or five newborns wash up on beaches each year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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