Unusual high tide swamps Venice

ROME - An unusually high tide flooded most of Venice early yesterday, forcing tourists and residents to wade through knee-high waters or take to improvised boardwalks set up in St. Mark's Square and other landmarks.

The waters came in before dawn and reached a peak of 56.6 inches above average sea level. City authorities said that put about 60 percent of Venice's streets and piazzas under water.

Still, the level yesterday was short of last year's record 63 inches, Venice's worst flooding in two decades.

The "acqua alta" (high water) phenomenon occurs when strong winds from the south help raise the sea level in the lagoon city. - AP

Irish bishop quits in abuse inquiry

DUBLIN - A second Roman Catholic bishop in Ireland announced yesterday that he would resign after a damning the investigation into decades of church cover-up of child abuse in the Dublin archdiocese.

Bishop Jim Moriarty revealed his decision to priests and other church officials in his diocese of Kildare and Leithlin, southwest of Dublin.

Moriarty said he accepted investigators' finding that he failed to react properly when told about abuse cases, particularly of one priest convicted of molesting girls in 1997. But he insisted his inaction reflected his colleagues' poor communication and secrecy.

Last week, Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick resigned, becoming the first high-profile casualty of a government-ordered probe into the church's failure to tell authorities about more than 170 suspected child abusers in the Dublin priesthood. - AP

Abduction soon became murder

BOGOTA - Colombian authorities said a governor kidnapped by gunmen on his 69th birthday and found with his throat slashed apparently was killed within hours of his abduction.

Manuel Hernandez, chief judicial investigator for Caqueta state, said yesterday that Gov. Luis Francisco Cuellar's body was found Tuesday nine miles from his house, which was invaded late Monday by eight to 10 men, presumed to be leftist rebels.

Military officials speculated Cuellar's captors killed him because security forces were in pursuit, but Hernandez said there was no sign of combat in the area.

While the leftist FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, did not immediately claim responsibility for the kidnapping, it has a history of staging publicity-grabbing attacks during the Christmas holidays. - AP

Elsewhere:

Poland's culture minister yesterday promised the Auschwitz museum money to step up security after the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" ("Work Sets You Free") sign was stolen from the site of the former Nazi death camp. Police found the sign Sunday, cut into three pieces.

The Supreme Court of Canada strengthened protections for journalists and bloggers in a pair of rulings hailed as a victory for press freedom in a country with especially stringent libel laws.