International Affairs: #3 Costa Concordia

On Jan. 13, the Costa Concordia, a 950-foot luxury ocean liner, struck a rock and ran aground off the island of Giglio, Italy. Thirty-two people died during the partial sinking and failed evacuation, including two whose bodies are yet to be recovered.

Francesco Schettino, the captain of the ship, was criticized for leaving the vessel before all the passengers were safely ashore. Among his accusers was Coast Guard officer Gregorio de Falco, who ordered the captain back to his ship. Schettino, who admitted he took the $570 million ship within a few hundred feet of the island to perform a "maritime salute" (perhaps to impress a blond Moldovan passenger), faces possible charges of manslaughter.

In October, the raising of the Costa Concordia began in earnest, with more than 450 workers attempting what's been called the biggest sea salvage effort of all time. The $400 million operation is expected to take at least eight months. The pretrial proceedings also began that month, and spectators wondered whether the captain would employ the notorious "I tripped" explanation as he faced the survivors for the first time. Schettino has insisted on his innocence and says he is writing a book that will prove it.

The crew members (sans captain) who did remain on board to save lives (such as off-duty captain Robert Bosio, a teenage dancer, and Filipino waiters and cooks) were recognized as the Seafarer of the Year by the maritime daily newspaper Lloyd's List.