Afloat. In the largest (read most expensive) maritime salvage project in history, crews are raising the Costa Concordia from its resting place just off the Italian coast in preparation to tow it back to its home port of Genoa to be scrapped. The ship sank near the island of Giglio in January 2012, killing 32 people. For 18 months, it remained mostly submerged, resting at an angle on a rocky, underwater ledge. In September, crews righted the ship, which is twice as large as the Titanic, and set it on underwater platforms built to support it. Now, engineers are filling ballast tanks on the side of the ship with air to raise it high enough to be towed 150 miles to port in about a week. They are fighting the possibility the hull might break apart, spewing the ship’s contents into one of Europe’s most sensitive marine sanctuaries. The entire operation is expected to cost about $2 billion.
Returned to duty. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is returning to regular duty, U.S. Army officials announced today. The former Taliban captive has been at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio since shortly after his May 31 release, where he has been treated at Brooke Army Medical Center. He will be assigned to an administrative post at base headquarters. “He will now return to regular duty within the command where he can contribute to the mission,” an Army statement said. “The Army investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the disappearance and capture of Bergdahl is still ongoing.” Based on statements from members of his former unit in Afghanistan and an Army investigation in the months after he disappeared, it is widely believed Bergdahl walked off base voluntarily and was captured. Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, who has been assigned to investigate the 2009 incident, must now determine whether Bergdahl was attempting to desert his unit.
Fined. Citigroup Inc. has agreed to pay a $7 billion fine to settle the U.S. government’s claim it misled investors about mortgage securities ahead of the 2008 financial meltdown. The fine includes a $4 billion penalty to the Justice Department, $500 million to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and several states, and $2.5 billion on a mortgage modification program for customers still struggling to make their payments. In a tough statement he plans to issue later today Attorney General Eric Holder plans to castigate the bank for “egregious” misconduct and remind executives the settlement doesn’t protect them or the bank from future criminal charges. Citigroup is the second major U.S. bank to pay a penalty for its role in the housing crisis that sparked the Great Recession. J.P. Morgan agreed to pay $13 billion in November. The government is still negotiating with Bank of America over its punishment.
Cause to celebrate. Soccer enthusiasm following Germany’s victory over Argentina to win the 2014 World Cup almost overwhelmed Facebook and Twitter yesterday, as fans took to their social networks to talk about the match. Twitter reported a record-setting 618,725 tweets per minute during the game played in Brazil. On Facebook, 88 million people posted responses to the 1-0 win, prompting 280 million interactions worldwide. One of the German players, striker Lukas Podolski, even pulled out his phone to tweet a selfie with teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger after the winning goal. A few minutes later, he found German Chancellor Angela Merkel and tweeted a selfie with her.