People also are talking about another Catholic leader ousted by sex abuse issues, a possible French fry shortage and impeachment inquiry takes a new turn.
Polar bear may not survive being spray-painted with graffiti
Thick, black graffiti sprayed onto a Russian polar bear's coat poses an extra threat to an animal already in danger, experts say.
Video shared on social media shows a lumbering polar bear whose back had been branded with "T-34," the name of an old Soviet Union tank.
The video was posted to Facebook on December 1 by Sergey Kavry, a World Wildlife Fund employee who lives in the remote Russian region.
In the comments, Kavry said he obtained the video via WhatsApp from indigenous minorities in Chukotka, in Russia's far east, though it is not clear from the video where it was filmed.
Polar bears are having to travel farther to find food as sea ice retreats due to the climate crisis.
The Russian branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released a report in August warning that residents of the coastal village of Ryrkaipiy in Chukotka had begun to "encounter polar bears near the settlement."
Kavry said he was concerned about the branded bear's ability to survive in the wild: "Why! Now he won't be able to hunt unnoticed."
Anatoly Kochnev, a senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti that, while the black paint is likely to wash off, the polar bear might find it difficult in the meantime to use its coat as camouflage while hunting.
It's not known why the animal was painted. Kochnev said it was probably the work of "pranksters."
Buffalo bishop resigns over how he handled sexual misconduct allegations
Pope Francis on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone following widespread criticism from his staff, priests and the public over how he handled allegations of clergy sexual misconduct.
The Vatican announced the resignation in a brief statement, adding that Francis had named the bishop of Albany, New York, Edward Scharfenberger, to run the Buffalo diocese temporarily until a permanent replacement is found.
The Vatican didn't say why Malone was resigning two years before the mandatory retirement age of 75. However, the Vatican conducted a recent investigation into the western New York diocese and Malone's handling of abuse cases.
The diocese has been named in more than 220 recent lawsuits by people who claim they were sexually abused by priests.
Many of the claims date back decades, long before Malone's arrival in Buffalo in 2012. But critics say there have been more recent missteps by Malone, including his decision to return to ministry a priest who had been suspended by a previous bishop for including "love you" in a Facebook message to an eighth-grade boy.
Malone later endorsed the same priest for a job as a cruise ship chaplain, even after he was also accused of making unwanted advances toward young men.
Malone has admitted to making mistakes in cases involving adult victims, but he had firmly refused to resign.
Pressure on him to leave has been intense.
Over the past year, two key members of Malone's staff have gone public with concerns about his leadership, including his former secretary, the Rev. Ryszard Biernat, who secretly recorded Malone calling a then-active priest "a sick puppy," but taking no immediate action to remove him.
Earlier, his executive assistant, Siobhan O'Connor, leaked internal church documents after becoming concerned that Malone had intentionally omitted dozens of names from a publicly released list of priests with credible allegations of abuse.
In September, a group of lay Catholics that had been working with Malone to restore trust in the church instead joined in calls for his resignation.
A diocesan priest, meanwhile, has been circulating a "no confidence" letter for signatures.
Candid video appears to show NATO leaders gossiping about Trump
While NATO leaders are professing unity as they gather for a summit near London, several seem to have been caught in an unguarded exchange on camera apparently gossiping about U.S. President Donald Trump's behavior.
In footage recorded during a reception at Buckingham Palace Tuesday evening, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was seen standing in a huddle with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Britain's Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II.
After Johnson asked Macron, "is that why you were late?" Trudeau could be heard saying "he was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top." That appeared to be a reference to Trump's long and unscheduled question-and-answer session with journalists earlier Tuesday.
Trudeau also said: "You just watched his team's jaws drop to the floor."
Trump wasn't mentioned by name during the exchange.
Footage of the palace reception was recorded by a pool camera. It was posted online by Canadian broadcaster CBC and has been viewed more than 4 million times.
NATO leaders are meeting Wednesday in Watford, outside London, to mark the 70th anniversary of the military alliance — and to try to patch up differences over defense spending, the alliance's strategic direction and member nation Turkey's military action in northern Syria.
No more weed with Willie Nelson, who says he quit smoking pot
Country music legend and longtime pot-smoker Willie Nelson says he has given up weed.
In an interview with KSAT-TV in San Antonio, Nelson, 86, said he quit for health reasons.
"I have abused my lungs quite a bit in the past so breathing is a little more difficult these days and I have to be careful," he said. "I don't smoke anymore."
Nelson said he smoked his first joint in 1954, but he also had smoked cedar bark and cigarettes.
In August, Nelson was forced to cancel shows because of breathing issues.
He said keeping his lungs healthy is paramount, especially with performing.
"Your lungs are the biggest muscle you have got. So when you're out there working, you are working out," he said.
The singer also told KSAT he did not care about online speculation over his health issues.
"I'm here; I'm glad to be here," he said. "I'm lucky to be here."
Brace yourselves, America: French fry shortage could be coming
Winter is coming — for our French fries.
Unusually cold and wet weather during the potato harvest season has left some growers in the United States and Canada unable to harvest a significant portion of their crop.
Now, processors across North America are rushing to find potatoes from additional sources to keep up with the increasing demand for fries, in news first reported by Bloomberg.
The U.S. is the fifth largest producer of potatoes in the world, and the crop is grown in nearly every state. But this year, the amount of potatoes produced and harvested is down in some of the top-producing states, including Idaho, Oregon, and North Dakota.
Overall potato production in the US is forecast to fall about 6.1 percent from last year, according to a November report from the US Department of Agriculture. That's the lowest it's been since 2010.
In Idaho, which produces about a third of US potatoes, production is forecast to fall five percent from last year, USDA reported. About 308,000 acres were harvested, down about 7,000 from 2018.
Factories that supply potatoes to restaurants and grocery stores might have to rely on other sources or import them. And potatoes originally designated for other purposes, like chips or the bags of fresh potatoes you buy at the store, might instead be used to make French fries.
Despite cold weather affecting some of this year's crop, Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, said he's not too worried. By the time the frost hit in October, Idaho farmers had harvested about 85 percent of their crop. And those potatoes were of good quality.
If all this has you devising a plan to stockpile fries or take to the streets to demand your right to crispy, golden-brown spuds, you can sit tight for now.
Experts say that prices at fast food restaurants like McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy's have been fixed for the year through contracts and are unlikely to change.
"[Fast food restaurants] look at that menu board as sacrosanct," Stephen Nicholson, a grains and oilseeds analyst at Rabo AgriFinance, told CNN. "They don't want to change that menu board unless they absolutely have to."
'Serious misconduct' by Trump on center stage today
The House Judiciary Committee is moving swiftly to weigh findings by fellow lawmakers that President Donald Trump misused the power of his office for personal political gain and then obstructed Congress' investigation as possible grounds for impeachment.
Responsible for drafting articles of impeachment, the Judiciary Committee prepared Wednesday morning for its first hearing since the release of a 300-page report by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee that found "serious misconduct" by the president.
The report did not render a judgment on whether Trump's actions stemming from a July 25 phone call with Ukraine's president rose to the constitutional level of "high crimes and misdemeanors" warranting impeachment. That is for the full House to decide. But its findings involving Trump's efforts to seek foreign intervention in the American election process provide the basis for a House vote on impeachment and a Senate trial carrying the penalty of removal from office.
"The evidence that we have found is really quite overwhelming that the president used the power of his office to secure political favors and abuse the trust American people put in him and jeopardize our security," Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told The Associated Press.
"It was a difficult decision to go down this road, because it's so consequential for the country," Schiff said. But "the president was the author of his own impeachment inquiry by repeatedly seeking foreign help in his election campaigns."
Schiff added: "Americans need to understand that this president is putting his personal political interests above theirs. And that it's endangering the country."
The session Wednesday with legal scholars will delve into possible impeachable offenses, but the real focus will be on the panel, led by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and made up of a sometimes boisterous, sharply partisan division of lawmakers.
In a 53-page opening statement obtained by the AP, Republican witness Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, will say that the Democrats are bringing a "slipshod impeachment" case against the president based on secondhand information. Still, Turley doesn't excuse the president's behavior.
"It is not wrong because President Trump is right," according to Turley. He calls Trump's call with Ukraine "anything but 'perfect," as the president claims. "A case for impeachment could be made, but it cannot be made on this record," he says.
The remaining three witnesses, all called by Democrats, will argue for impeachment, according to statements obtained by the AP.
Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill argues, "If Congress fails to impeach here, then the impeachment process has lost all meaning."