If you're looking for a bellwether in the Costa Concordia wreck's rescue efforts, just pay attention to how loud and how often officials talk about emptying out the 2,300 tons of fuel the ship is holding. Balancing the rescue efforts with the threat of a very-real environmental disaster is the problem facing the Italian Navy and coast guard officials. CNN has news today that Italian authorities may call off the Italian Navy's efforts to find the 21 or so missing people. "Declaring the operation to be recovery rather than rescue would allow salvage experts to start pumping fuel out of the ship, potentially averting an environmental catastrophe," according to CNN. "Rescuers will try to blow more holes in the side of the ship with explosives to allow greater access to the ship if weather allows on Thursday." Officials halted the desperate rescue recovery efforts yesterday because the ship had shifted and there's still a looming risk that the Costa Concordia could sink if the seas turn rough.  

Of course the unfortunate subplot of this ordeal has been the story of Captain Francesco Schettino, or as The New York Post prefers to call him, "The Chicken of The Sea." The BBC reported last night that Schettino told investigators he ordered the turn too late. "I was navigating by sight because I knew the depths well and I had done this maneuver three or four times," he reportedly said, recalling events that presumably happened before he "accidentally abandoned ship by falling into a lifeboat." Proving that there are still some people in the world willing to vouch for Schettino, his brother-in-law and priest have come to his defense. Schettino "managed to avoid a tragedy -- it could have been worse," his brother-in-law told an Italian paper, which CNN translated today. "He was not running away, he came down [from the ship] to survey the damage," Russo said. Schettino's priest offered up a very unfortunate play on words, accusing the media of "killing him." 

"Already there are all these dead people, do we want to add another one to the list?" said Schettino's priest, not quite cognizant of his face-palm inducing metaphor.