News in brief

Rome, Italy

In Jan. 2012, the Costa Concordia ran aground off a small Italian island, killing 32 passengers and injuring others on board. Ship captain Francesco Schettino is now on trial for manslaughter and abandoning ship. Schettino claims that at the time of shipwreck, “the ship was literally falling on top of him and he fell into the lifeboat,” according to CNN. Schettino’s crew members contend otherwise. “Francesco Schettino jumped into the lifeboat,” Stefano Iannelli, a crew member who allegedly followed Schettino, testified at a court in Grosseto, Italy.

Armenia, Colombia

In the rural communities of Colombia, educators like Myriam Mazzo teach children of various ages and grade levels — all in a single classroom. But Mazzo’s approach, dubbed Escuela Nueva, enables students to work in small groups at their own pace, rather than having teachers stand by a blackboard and address the whole class. In a region where poverty runs rampant and culture often gives importance to work over school, Escuela Nueva’s flexible program encourages dropout students to return to school and make inroads in education at their own pace.

Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria

An analyst declared “extreme danger” after two U.S. sailors were kidnapped by armed pirates off the coast of Nigeria on Oct. 23. Nearly three weeks later, the U.S. Department of State has confirmed release and rescue of the sailors, both believed to be U.S. citizens. Infiltrated by criminal gangs who account for over 200 incidents involving piracy in 2013, the Gulf of Guinea is the top kidnap hot-spot in the world, the International Maritime Bureau reports.

Cebu, Philippines

Some say 2,000 or 2,500, others 10,000. It may be weeks, maybe months, before the death toll is finalized, but what’s certain is that Typhoon Haiyan has killed too many to count. Described by storm survivors as “worse than hell,” Haiyan wrecked the Philippine islands from the East, displacing at least 800,000 people. On Nov. 12, four days after the storm made landfall, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy called for a dispatch of U.S. Navy amphibious ships, CNN reports. Kennedy intends for the specialized vessels to carry helicopters, small boats, trucks and equipment to produce potable water.