Scott Neuman

The captain of the Costa Concordia says the helmsman of the ill-fated cruise liner failed to properly execute a last-minute corrective maneuver that could have kept the massive vessel off a rocky shoal near the coast of Tuscany.

Capt. Francesco Schettino, who is charged with manslaughter in the deaths of 32 people aboard the ship, which ran aground on Jan. 13, 2012, is also accused of abandoning the liner's 4,200 passengers and crew on the night of the wreck.

Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service official who ran the division engulfed in a scandal over special scrutiny of Tea Party and patriot groups seeking tax exemption, will retire.

The IRS announced Monday that Lerner would step down after being placed on paid leave in May. She refused that month to answer questions at a congressional hearing, citing the Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself.

Secretary of State John Kerry plans to meet his Iranian counterpart this week for the highest-level face-to-face between Washington and Tehran in six years.

The meeting with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and representatives of five other world powers — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — would come as newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits the United Nations in New York. The talks would center on Iran's nuclear program.

Less than a week ago, it looked like the America's Cup — yachting's oldest and most prestigious trophy — would sail back to New Zealand after a near blowout of the U.S. defenders, who are sponsored by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

At least 85 people are listed as dead in northwest Pakistan after what's been described as the largest-ever attack on the country's Christian minority.

A pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up Sunday at the historic All Saints Church in the city of Peshawar, not far from the Afghan border.

BlackBerry on Friday issued an early earnings report accompanied by some bad news for its workers — a nearly $1 billion quarterly loss and a 40 percent layoff that amounts to about 4,500 employees.

The AP reports:

"The stock dropped 19 percent to $8.50 after reopening for trading. Shares had been halted pending the news.

A Pennsylvania police chief who gained national attention for Internet videos in which he fired high-powered rifles while shouting obscenities against liberals, Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Nations has been fired.

The Gilberton, Pa., borough council voted to suspend Mark Kessler in July. On Thursday, lawmakers handed Kessler his pink slip.

Super-typhoon Usagi — the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph — is expected to skirt the Philippines and Taiwan before slamming into the Chinese coast near Hong Kong over the weekend.

The storm is forecast to skirt the coast of Luzon in the northern Philippines on Friday and brush the southern tip of Taiwan on Saturday. Although it is expected to be downgraded in strength by the time it hits Hong Kong on Sunday evening, Typhoon Usagi could still do considerable damage.

The Republican-controlled House has voted to keep the government funded but its "continuing resolution" comes with a poison pill to defund the Affordable Care Act that Democrats have vowed is dead on arrival in the Senate.

Syria has submitted the first details of its chemical arsenal to an international watchdog in the Netherlands that monitors compliance with agreements on such weapons.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, says it has received an "initial declaration" from Damascus outlining the extent of the Syrian program — a requirement under a U.S.-Russia deal "to ensure the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program (CW) in the soonest and safest manner."

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted Thursday to slash $40 billion from the federal food stamp program.

GOP lawmakers cited what they said was widespread abuse of the program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which is intended to help poor individuals and families buy groceries.

The vote to cut food stamps came on a party line vote of 217-200.

"It's wrong for working, middle-class people to pay" for abuse of the program, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said.

By the middle of the century, the number of older people suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia will nearly triple, severely straining caregiving resources, the charity Alzheimer's Disease International says in a new study released Thursday.

Currently, some 100 million people globally suffer from the potentially fatal disease. That number is expected to increase to 277 million by 2050, as the graying population increases, The World Alzheimer's Report 2013 says.

Greece's premier has vowed not to let a neo-Nazi party undermine democracy after the killing of a Greek hip-hop and rap singer by a right-wing extremist.

"This government is determined not to let the descendants of the Nazis poison our social life or commit crimes," Antonis Samaras said in a national television address.

An extremist with possible ties to the right-wing Golden Dawn party has admitted to stabbing to death musician Pavlos Fyssas, who goes by the stage name Killah P. The incident has sparked outrage among many Greeks.

The Associated Press writes:

Far fewer people remain on the "missing" list in Colorado as rescuers increasingly reach some of the more remote areas of the 17 counties affected by a devastating flood that has killed at least six people.

The Associated Press reports that the number of missing was at 200 on Thursday, down from a high of 1,200. Electricity and phone service has been restored in some areas, helping trim the list.

Emirates Team New Zealand is within a single race of snatching the America's Cup from defenders Oracle Team USA, as the two giant catamarans square off in the waters off San Francisco for a 12th time.

Orbital Sciences' Cygnus spacecraft has successfully launched from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on its way to becoming the second private vehicle to resupply the International Space Station.

Space.com says:

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was among several political prisoners released by Tehran on Wednesday, just days ahead of a visit by Iran's newly elected moderate president to the United Nations in New York.

Sotoudeh, who had been held since 2010, was one of eight women and three men released, according to the BBC. Reformist politician Mohsen Aminzadeh was also among the prisoners freed.

A judge has ruled that a Tennessee woman can name her 8-month-old son "Messiah" — a decision that overturns a ruling last month that drew international attention to the boy.

In a paternity hearing in August, Jaleesa Martin and Jawaan McCullough brought a dispute over their son's surname. Martin had given her son the name Messiah Deshawn Martin, but McCullough wanted the boy to have his last name.

The man behind Beanie Babies, the toy animals that saw their heyday in the mid-1990s, has agreed to plead guilty to tax evasion for failing to report income held in Swiss bank accounts.

H. Ty Warner, 69, has been charged in U.S. District Court with felony tax evasion. The indictment alleges that in 1996, Warner traveled to Zurich to open an account with Union Bank of Switzerland with the intent to "evade and defeat" taxes on $3.1 million in foreign income.

Update At 12:30 p.m. ET. SEC Approves Rule:

The Securities and Exchange Commission has voted 3-2 to move the proposed rule ahead, with the two Republican commissioners opposing the measure.

The rule now goes for a 60-day public comment period, after which it could be formally adopted.

SEC commissioners also voted unanimously to require municipal advisers to register with the agency.

Here's our original post:

A day after police say a 34-year-old civilian contractor and ex-Navy reservist killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard, questions are being asked about how a man with a troubled service record and signs of mental instability had clearance to be on base.

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who has lived for years with the progressive and debilitating motor neuron condition known as Lou Gehrig's disease, tells the BBC that he favors assisted suicide for people with terminal illnesses.

Hawking, 71, who uses a wheelchair and speaks through a computer speech synthesizer activated by his eye movements, said: "We don't let animals suffer, so why humans?"

The SpaceX Dragon may have gotten there first, but Orbital Sciences' Cygnus spacecraft is set to become the second private robotic ship to dock with the International Space Station after a Wednesday launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The launch is scheduled for 10:50 a.m. EDT on Wednesday from Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops.

Aaron Alexis, the 34-year-old man believed responsible for Monday's shooting rampage that killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard, was a former full-time Navy reservist who had obtained a concealed-carry permit in Texas and was arrested three years ago for illegally discharging a weapon.

It's mostly the usual suspects on the latest Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans: Bill Gates tops the list for the 20th consecutive year, with a net worth of $72 billion, followed by investor Warren Buffett and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

The Koch brothers, Charles and David, tie for fourth place, while Walton family members with an interest in retail behemoth Wal-Mart occupy positions 6 through 9.

For some employees at the Washington Navy Yard, the first sign that something was wrong came when a fire alarm went off early Monday morning.

The sprawling Washington Navy Yard, scene of a deadly shooting Monday, is the Navy's oldest shore establishment and has long been considered the "ceremonial gateway" to the nation's capital.

The yard went into operation at the turn of the 19th century. Today, it employs thousands of people and is regarded as the "quarterdeck of the Navy" for its role as headquarters for the Naval District Washington.

Thousands of North Korean defectors have made their way to the South, but it rarely goes in the opposite direction. So, news that South Korean troops at the border shot and killed a man trying to swim north across the Imjin River is unusual.

Darwin the 'Ikea monkey' will no longer be hitting the superstores with a Canadian woman who calls him her son after a judge in Ontario ruled that the primate is not a pet and should remain at an animal sanctuary.

As we wrote in December, Darwin, a Japanese macaque dressed in a heavy shearling coat, attracted considerable attention when he escaped from a locked crate in owner Yasmin Nakhuda's car in Toronto. He made his way through rows of parked cars and ended up inside a nearby Ikea store before staff there cornered him and called in animal control officials.

A fire at a dilapidated Russian psychiatric facility that broke out early Friday morning has killed at least 37 people, including a nurse who tried to guide patients to safety, officials say.

The fire in the town of Luka, about 120 miles southeast of St. Petersburg, was the second such blaze in recent months. In April, a similar blaze at a psychiatric hospital near Moscow killed 38 people.

In the latest incident, authorities had long warned that the mostly wooden building dating to the 19th century was unsafe, according to The Associated Press.

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