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Kraft debuts dairy-free mac and cheese; electric vehicle sales to hit record this year; massive iceberg drifting beyond Antarctic waters

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On the version of Hot off the Wire posted Dec. 2 at 6 a.m. CT:

Kraft Heinz says it’s bringing dairy-free macaroni and cheese to the U.S. for the first time. The company says the new recipe has the same creamy texture and flavor of the beloved 85-year-old original but replaces dairy with ingredients like fava bean protein and coconut oil powder. Kraft NotMac&Cheese will be rolled out to U.S. stores over the next few months. It was developed in collaboration with Not Co., a Chicago startup that makes plant-based milk, burgers and other products. Kraft and Not Co. formed a joint venture last year and have also developed plant-based cheese slices and mayonnaise.

Electric vehicle sales are expected to hit a record 9% of all passenger vehicles in the U.S. this year, according to Atlas Public Policy. That will be up from 7.3% of new car sales in 2022. This will be the first year U.S. EV sales surpass 1 million, and they will probably reach between 1.3 million and 1.4 million cars. Electric vehicle prices in the U.S. have been falling. Although the numbers show significant progress for electrification in the US, the nation is lagging behind countries like China, Germany, and Norway.

The energy used by cars and their CO2 emissions could have dropped by over 30% in the past decade if not for the world’s growing taste for SUVs, a new report from the Global Fuel Economy Initiative suggests. Electric vehicles are a solution, but large gas-powered cars are incredibly popular, especially in the U.S., and their overall market share keeps growing. Large SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe, Toyota Sequoia, or Nissan Armada have highway fuel efficiency of just 28, 24, and 19 miles per gallon, respectively.

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. life expectancy rose last year, but it still isn’t close to what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. It was up by more than a year in 2022, after plunging two straight years at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's now 77 years, 6 months — about what it was two decades ago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the numbers on Wednesday. Researchers say the rise was mainly due the waning pandemic. The snapshot statistic is considered one of the most important measures of the health of the U.S. population.

PHOENIX (AP) — The United States is ill-prepared to ensure housing and care for the growing ranks of America's older people. That's the conclusion of a new report being released Thursday by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Without enough government assistance many older adults will have to forgo needed care or rely on family and friends for assistance. Many will become homeless. Officials at the center say more governmental assistance could better help the upsurge of older Americans who are baby boomers born after World War II. Creative ideas are needed to help house people with fixed or dwindling incomes.

NEW YORK (AP) — The COVID-19 pandemic upended the work habits of people around the world, with millions working from home, at least for part of their week. Workers have returned in waves back to the office on some days, but navigating that transition is a significant hurdle for employers and workers alike. And many simply don’t want to restore the pre-COVID status quo. Top factors behind this resistance include a sense of losing flexibility or throwing off a better work-life balance, as well as often lengthy and costly commutes. Two surveys conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago give a glimpse into the challenges and tensions that arrive with return to office plans.

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH, Fla. (AP) — It's been a record-breaking year for sea turtles in Florida. Just as they have for millions of years, the turtles have crawled onto beaches, digging pits in the sand to lay their eggs. Florida's preliminary count shows more than 133,840 loggerhead turtle nests and 76,500 green turtle nests, breaking records set years ago. Other southeastern U.S. states also report high numbers. But only one in 1,000 hatchlings lives to adulthood and climate change is threatening their species as beaches disappear under rising seas. Hotter sand makes more females, and the hatchlings are smaller and slower. Experts say their future remains ominous.

LONDON (AP) — The British Antarctic Survey says that one of the world’s largest icebergs is drifting beyond Antarctic waters after being grounded for more than three decades. The iceberg known as A23a split from the Antarctic’s Filchner Ice Shelf in 1986. But it became stuck to the ocean floor and had remained for many years in the Weddell Sea. The iceberg is about three times the size of New York City and more than twice the size of Greater London. Andrew Fleming from the British Antarctic Survey told the BBC on Friday that the iceberg has been drifting for the past year and now appears to be picking up speed and moving past the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula helped by wind and ocean currents.

ELMSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — A growing number of states are working to keep food out of landfills over concerns the waste is taking up too much space and posing environmental problems. Globally, about a third of food is wasted. In the United States, it’s even higher, at 40%. California and some others have passed laws requiring food waste to be composted while others including New York require supermarkets and other businesses to redirect food to food pantries. They argue it saves landfill space, cuts methane emissions and also gives poor families more choices. New York says it already has recycled or donated 5 million pounds of leftover food.

The oil and gas sector, one of the major emitters of planet-warming gases, will need a rapid and substantial overhaul for the world to avoid even worse extremes fueled by human-caused climate change. That's according to a report released Thursday. The International Energy Agency says the current investment of $800 billion a year for the oil and gas sector will need to be slashed in half and emissions need to fall by 60% to give the world a fighting chance to meet its climate goals. It also found that the sector’s investment into clean technologies like solar and wind only account for 1% of the global total.

WENDEN, Ariz. (AP) — Worries about future water supplies from ancient aquifers are bubbling up in western rural Arizona. Some neighbors complain that their backyard wells have dried up since an Emirati agribusiness began farming alfalfa nearby. One farmer worries that state officials someday may try to divert the area’s groundwater for Phoenix’s future needs. Experts say tensions are inevitable as companies in climate-challenged countries such as the United Arab Emirates look to faraway places like rural Arizona for water and land they need to cultivate forage material and commodities.

—The Associated Press

About this program

Host Terry Lipshetz is a senior producer for Lee Enterprises. Besides producing the daily Hot off the Wire news podcast, Terry conducts periodic interviews for this Behind the Headlines program, co-hosts the Streamed & Screened movies and television program and is the producer of Across the Sky, a podcast dedicated to weather and climate.

Lee Enterprises produces many national, regional and sports podcasts. Learn more here.

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