Kraft debuts dairy-free ‘NotMac & Cheese’

Kraft Macaroni and… Fava Beans?

The Kraft Heinz Co. said Wednesday it’s bringing dairy-free macaroni and cheese to the U.S. for the first time. The company said the new recipe has the same creamy texture and flavor of its beloved 85-year-old original Mac & Cheese but replaces dairy with ingredients like fava bean protein and coconut oil powder.

The plant-based Kraft NotMac & Cheese, which will be rolled out to U.S. stores over the next few months, was developed in collaboration with Not Co., a Chicago startup that makes plant-based milk, burgers and other products.

Kraft Heinz, which is based in Pittsburgh and Chicago, formed a joint venture with Not Co. last year. The joint venture, called The Kraft Heinz Not Co., has already released non-dairy cheese slices and mayonnaise in the U.S. It plans to add more products and begin international distribution next year.

Kraft Heinz began selling vegan macaroni and cheese in Australia in 2021, but this will be the first time it’s been sold in the U.S.

Kraft Heinz Not Co. CEO Lucho Lopez-May said sales of plant-based macaroni and cheese products are outpacing the overall category. But less than 30% of buyers purchase the products a second time, citing disappointing taste and texture.

Lopez-May said Kraft Heinz Not Co. aims to meet consumers’ preference for plant-based foods with familiar flavors that don’t force them to make drastic changes to their eating habits. Kraft sells more than 1 million boxes of its original Mac & Cheese every day.

NotMac & Cheese will be available in white cheddar and original flavors.

While it’s made from plants, NotMac & Cheese isn’t necessarily healthier than the original. When fully prepared with margarine and almond milk, 1 cup of NotMac & Cheese has 450 calories; by comparison, 1 cup of original Mac & Cheese prepared with margarine and 2% milk is 350 calories. The plant-based dry mix is higher in fat and carbohydrates. But it’s also lower in cholesterol and has more protein and fiber.

Kraft Heinz didn’t provide a full ingredient list or nutrition information, but the plant-based box advertises 310 calories per serving, which is more than the 250 calories in the original. It is also higher in saturated fat but lower in sugar.

▶️ DASHCAM: Missouri police pursue mobile home that was ‘all over the roadway’

It’s not often police pursue an oversized load. But on Thanksgiving night, police in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, did.

Excelsior Springs Police released dashcam footage of an attempted traffic stop. Video voiced over by Sgt. Craven discusses the pursuit of a pickup driver pulling a mobile home.

“The was going about 30 miles per hour. He was haunting this big ‘ol house. Looks like he was gonna live in it. He was traveling all over the roadway. We thought he might’ve been drunk. We came up on him. We chased him all over the road,” Craven said.

Officers attempted and failed to use stop sticks, but eventually were able to stop the man and take him into custody.

RELATED: DASHCAM VIDEO: Florida chain-reaction crash caused by turtle crossing road

RELATED: CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Motorhome overturns on Oregon’s I-84 after clipping semi

KCTV contributed to this report.

Taylor Swift is Spotify’s most-streamed artist of 2023, ends Bad Bunny’s reign

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It’s her, hi — Taylor Swift is Spotify’s 2023 most-played artist.

According to Spotify Wrapped, Swift was 2023’s most-streamed artist globally, raking in more than 26.1 billion streams since January 1. That means the pop powerhouse has dethroned Puerto Rican reggaetón star Bad Bunny, who held the coveted title for three years in a row beginning in 2020.

He’s in the number two slot in 2023, followed by The Weeknd in third, Drake in fourth, and regional Mexican musician Peso Pluma in fifth.

It’s not such bad news for Bad Bunny, however: his 2022 album “Un Verano Sin Ti” was Spotify’s most-streamed album for the second year in a row, raking in 4.5 billion global streams. In that category, Taylor Swift’s “Midnights” trails in second, with SZA’s “SOS” in third. All three albums were released last year.

The top five is rounded out with The Weeknd’s 2016 album “Starboy” and Karol G’s “Mañana Será Bonito,” the only 2023 release to reach the peak.

Miley Cyrus’ empowerment anthem “Flowers” is Spotify’s most-streamed song of the year with 1.6 million streams globally.

“Kill Bill” by SZA is the second most-streamed song of the year, while Harry Styles’ “As It Was,” BTS member Jung Kook featuring Latto’s “Seven,” and Eslabon Armado and Peso Pluma’s “Ella Baila Sola” came in third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

In the U.S., Swift’s dominance continued — she was the most streamed artist on the platform, followed by Drake and country star Morgan Wallen. Wallen’s “Last Night” was the most streamed song, and his full-length “One Thing at a Time” was the most streamed-album.

On Tuesday, Apple Music announced Wallen’s “Last Night” topped its global song chart in 2023. It has been a banner year for the song, which also stayed atop the Billboard Hot 100 for 16 weeks, tying Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber’s “Despacito” for the title of second-longest reign in the Hot 100’s 65-year history.

Sports Illustrated is latest media company damaged by AI experiment gone wrong

NEW YORK (AP) — Computer-generated writers … writing computer-generated stories?

Sports Illustrated is the latest media company to see its reputation damaged by being less than forthcoming — if not outright dishonest — about who or what is writing its stories at the dawn of the artificial intelligence age.

The once-powerful publication said it was firing a company that produced articles for its website written under the byline of authors who apparently don’t exist. But it denied a published report that stories themselves were written by an artificial intelligence tool.

Earlier this year, experiments with AI went awry at both the Gannett newspaper chain and the CNET technology website. Many companies are testing the new technology at a time when human workers fear it could cost jobs. But the process is fraught in journalism, which builds and markets its values-based products around the notions of truth and transparency.

While there’s nothing wrong in media companies experimenting with artificial intelligence, “the mistake is in trying to hide it, and in doing it poorly,” said Tom Rosenstiel, a University of Maryland professor who teaches journalism ethics.

“If you want to be in the truth-telling business, which journalists claim they do, you shouldn’t tell lies,” Rosenstiel said. “A secret is a form of lying.”

Conflicting accounts of what happened

Sports Illustrated, now run as a website and once-monthly publication by the Arena Group, at one time was a weekly in the Time Inc. stable of magazines known for its sterling writing. “Its ambitions were grand,” said Jeff Jarvis, author of “Magazine,” a book he describes as an elegy for the industry.

On Monday, the Futurism website reported that Sports Illustrated used stories for product reviews that had authors it could not identify. Futurism found a picture of one author listed, Drew Ortiz, on a website that sells AI-generated portraits.

The magazine’s author profile said that “Drew has spent much of his life outdoors, and is excited to guide you through his never-ending list of the best products to keep you from falling to the perils of nature.”

Upon questioning Sports Illustrated, Futurism said all of the authors with AI-generated portraits disappeared from the magazine’s website. No explanation was offered.

Futurism quoted an unnamed person at the magazine who said artificial intelligence was used in the creation of some content as well — “no matter how much they say that it’s not.”

Sports Illustrated said the articles in question were created by a third-party company, AdVon Commerce, which assured the magazine that they were written and edited by humans. AdVon had its writers use a pen name, “actions we don’t condone,” Sports Illustrated said.

“We are removing the content while our internal investigation continues and have since ended the partnership,” the magazine said. A message to AdVon wasn’t immediately returned on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Sports Illustrated Union said it was horrified by the Futurism story.

“We demand answers and transparency from Arena group management about what exactly has been published under the SI name,” the union said. “We demand the company commit to adhering to basic journalistic standards, including not publishing computer-written stories by fake people.”

Not the first such situation 

Gannett paused an experiment at some of its newspapers this summer in which AI was used to generate articles on high school sports events, after errors were discovered. The articles carried the byline “LedeAI.”

Some of the unpleasant publicity that resulted might have been avoided if the newspapers had been explicit about the role of technology, and how it helped create articles that journalists might not have been available to do, Jarvis said. Gannett said a lack of staff had nothing to do with the experiment.

This past winter, it was reported that CNET had used AI to create explanatory news articles about financial service topics attributed to “CNET Money Staff.” The only way for readers to learn that technology was involved in the writing was to click on that author attribution.

Only after its experiment was discovered and written about by other publications did CNET discuss it with readers. In a note, then-editor Connie Guglielmo said that 77 machine-generated stories were posted, and that several required corrections. The site subsequently made it more clear when AI is being used in story creation.

“The process may not always be easy or pretty, but we’re going to continue embracing it, and any new technology that we believe makes life better,” Guglielmo wrote.

Other companies have been more up front about their experiments. Buzzfeed, for example, attributed a travel article on Santa Barbara, Calif., to writer Emma Heegar and Buzzy the Robot, “our creative AI assistant.”

“We’ll be developing content that is AI-native — cool new things that you couldn’t do at all without AI — and things that are enhanced by AI but created by humans,” Buzzfeed said in a note to readers.

The Associated Press has been using technology to assist in articles about financial earnings reports since 2014, and more recently in some sports stories. At the end of each such story is a note that explains technology’s role in its production, a spokeswoman said.

For instance, a short article about an upcoming NBA matchup earlier this month had this note at the end: “The Associated Press created this story using technology provided by Data Skrive and data from Sportradar.”

Amazon launches Q: Business chatbot powered by generative AI

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon finally has its answer to ChatGPT.

The tech giant said Tuesday it will launch Q — a business chatbot powered by generative artificial intelligence.

The announcement, made in Las Vegas at an annual conference the company hosts for its AWS cloud computing service, represents Amazon’s response to rivals who’ve rolled out chatbots that have captured the public’s attention.

San Francisco startup OpenAI’s release of ChatGPT a year ago sparked a surge of public and business interest in generative AI tools that can spit out emails, marketing pitches, essays, and other passages of text that resemble the work of humans.

That attention initially gave an advantage to OpenAI’s chief partner and financial backer, Microsoft, which has rights to the underlying technology behind ChatGPT and has used it to build its own generative AI tools known as Copilot. But it also spurred competitors like Google to launch their own versions.

These chatbots are a new generation of AI systems that can converse, generate readable text on demand and even produce novel images and video based on what they’ve learned from a vast database of digital books, online writings and other media.

Amazon said Tuesday that Q can do things like synthesize content, streamline day-to-day communications and help employees with tasks like generating blog posts. It said companies can also connect Q to their own data and systems to get a tailored experience that’s more relevant to their business.

The technology is currently available for preview.

While Amazon is ahead of rivals Microsoft and Google as the dominant cloud computing provider, it’s not perceived as the leader in the AI research that’s led to advancements in generative AI.

A recent Stanford University index that measured the transparency of the top 10 foundational AI models, including Amazon’s Titan, ranked Amazon at the bottom. Stanford researchers said less transparency can make it harder for customers that want to use the technology to know if they can safely rely on it, among other problems.

The company, meanwhile, has been forging forward. In September, Amazon said it would invest up to $4 billion in the AI startup Anthropic, a San Francisco-based company that was founded by former staffers from OpenAI.

The tech giant also has been rolling out new services, including an update for its popular assistant Alexa so users can have more human-like conversations and AI-generated summaries of product reviews for consumers.

High-fat, low carb(on) diet: Jetliner makes fossil-fuel-free transatlantic crossing

LONDON (AP) — The first commercial airliner to cross the Atlantic on a purely high-fat, low-emissions fuel flew Tuesday from London to New York in a step toward achieving what supporters called “jet zero.”

The Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 flight was powered without using fossil fuels, relying on so-called sustainable aviation fuel made up largely of tallow and other waste fats.

“The world will always assume something can’t be done, until you do it,” said Virgin founder Richard Branson, who was aboard the flight with others including corporate and government officials, engineers and journalists.

The U.K. Transport Department, which provided 1 million pounds ($1.27 million) to plan and operate the flight, called the test a “huge step towards jet zero” to make air travel more environmentally friendly, though large hurdles remain in making the fuel widely available.

While governments have long talked about decarbonizing air travel, the transition has been moving at the pace of a dirigible.

Sustainable aviation fuel, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 70%, is the best near-term way for the international aviation industry to achieve its net zero target by 2050, the U.S. Energy Department said, though it called the goal aspirational.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said that while domestic production of the fuel had jumped from about 2 million gallons in 2016 to 15.8 million gallons in 2022, it accounted for less than 0.1% of the jet fuel used by major U.S. airlines. It was also a drop in the bucket compared to the goal of producing 1 billion gallons a year set in 2018 by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The White House, meanwhile, set a goal two years ago to produce 3 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel per year by 2030 and 100% of domestic commercial jet fuel by 2050.

The U.K. has set a goal that 10% of jet fuel will come from sustainable sources by 2030.

Holly Boyd-Boland, vice president of corporate development at Virgin Atlantic, said the flight shows that the fuel can power existing aircraft but said the challenge is ramping up production to “get to enough volume so that we’re flying more sustainable aviation fuel every day.”

But the group Aviation Environment Federation said the aviation industry was making misleading claims about the impact of sustainable fuel on carbon emissions.

“The idea that this flight somehow gets us closer to guilt-free flying is a joke,” said policy director Cait Hewitt. Sustainable aviation fuel represents “around 0.1% of aviation fuel globally and will be very hard to scale up sustainably.”

While this is the first jetliner to make the transatlantic journey using only the sustainable fuel, it was not a commercial flight and not the first jet to do so.

Gulfstream Aerospace was the first to make the crossing earlier this month with a business jet powered only by the eco-fuel. Air France-KLM flew from Paris to Montreal two years ago using a mix of petroleum-based jet fuel and a synthetic derived from waste cooking oils.

Nikki Haley now backed by powerful Koch network as she aims to take on Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the powerful Koch network, formally endorsed Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign on Tuesday, promising to commit its nationwide army of activists — and virtually unlimited funds — to helping Haley defeat former President Donald Trump in the GOP primary contest.

“AFP Action is proud to throw our full support behind Nikki Haley, who offers America the opportunity to turn the page on the current political era, to win the Republican primary and defeat Joe Biden next November,” AFP president and CEO Emily Seidel wrote in a memo announcing the group’s decision.

“She has what it takes to lead a policy agenda to take on our nation’s biggest challenges and help ensure our country’s best days are ahead. With the grassroots and data capability we bring to bear in this race, no other organization is better equipped to help her do it.”

The endorsement may help Haley address one of her biggest strategic liabilities.

Despite seizing polling momentum in recent months, the former United Nations ambassador’s campaign has been lacking significant manpower on the ground in primary states to ensure her supporters turn out to vote. But now, she inherits the organizational heft of what may be the most powerful conservative grassroots organization in the nation. The Koch network, previously referred to as the Koch Brothers, has been building a network of paid conservative activists and volunteers in key states for several years.

Through this summer and fall alone, Americans for Prosperity activists have already communicated with six million primary voters, either in person at their doors or on the phone, Seidel said.

The development marks a particularly painful blow to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had championed conservative priorities in Florida, but struggled to emerge as the clear Trump alternative in the 2024 GOP primary contest. It’s unclear, however, whether the endorsement can help weaken Trump’s grip on the Republican presidential nomination given his commanding lead over DeSantis and Haley in virtually every poll.

Back in the spring, the Koch network began running ads across Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — the first three states on the GOP’s presidential primary calendar — focusing on questions about Trump’s electability in next fall’s general election against Biden. And still, Trump remains the overwhelming frontrunner in the race.

Seidel said Tuesday that Americans for Prosperity would immediately begin refocusing its efforts on boosting Haley’s primary and general election campaigns with strategic advertising investments, mailers and voter contacts through the group’s network of thousands of conservative activists, which has spent recent months collecting information from Republican primary voters to determine the most effective arguments against Trump.

At the same time, Seidel said that her organization would focus on convincing reliable general election voters, who typically don’t vote in primaries, to show up for Haley in this year’s fast-approaching nomination contests.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung dismissed Americans for Prosperity as “the political arm of the China-first, America-last movement.”

“No amount of shady money from George Soros, Democrats and Never-Trump RINOs in partnership with endless-war swamp creatures in Washington will stop the MAGA movement or President Trump from being the Republican nominee and defeating Crooked Joe Biden,” Cheung wrote in a statement responding to the Haley endorsement.

The DeSantis camp was not pleased.

In a statement, DeSantis spokesman Andrew Romeo likened the Koch endorsement to a contribution to the Trump campaign.

“Congratulations to Donald Trump on securing the Koch endorsement. Like clockwork, the pro-open borders, pro-jail break bill establishment is lining up behind a moderate who has no mathematical pathway of defeating the former president,” Romeo wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Every dollar spent on Nikki Haley’s candidacy should be reported as an in-kind to the Trump campaign. No one has a stronger record of beating the establishment than Ron DeSantis, and this time will be no different.”

Yet the Koch network is convinced that Haley is better positioned to defeat Trump — and Biden — than DeSantis.

In a polling memo, senior adviser Michael Palmer highlighted Haley’s “sustained momentum in recent months,” while noting that many primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are only just beginning to pay close attention to the contest.

“Gov DeSantis has been a tremendous leader of rate state of Florida,” Seidel said in a Tuesday conference call. “But all of the evidence we’ve already shared on this call point to the fact that Nikki Haley is the strongest candidate in this race and that’s why we decided to support her.”

Meanwhile, Haley said she was honored to have the support of Americans for Prosperity, “including its millions of grassroots members all across the country.”

“AFP Action’s members know that there is too much at stake in this election to sit on the sidelines,” she said in a statement. “This is a choice between freedom and socialism, individual liberty and big government, fiscal responsibility and spiraling debt. We have a country to save, and I’m grateful to have AFP Action by our side.”

Deepfakes from the Gaza war increase fears about AI’s power to mislead

WASHINGTON (AP) — Among images of the bombed out homes and ravaged streets of Gaza, some stood out for the utter horror: Bloodied, abandoned infants.

Viewed millions of times online since the war began, these images are deepfakes created using artificial intelligence. If you look closely you can see clues: fingers that curl oddly, or eyes that shimmer with an unnatural light — all telltale signs of digital deception.

The outrage the images were created to provoke, however, is all too real.

Pictures from the Israel-Hamas war have vividly and painfully illustrated AI’s potential as a propaganda tool, used to create lifelike images of carnage. Since the war began last month, digitally altered ones spread on social media have been used to make false claims about responsibility for casualties or to deceive people about atrocities that never happened.

While most of the false claims circulating online about the war didn’t require AI to create and came from more conventional sources, technological advances are coming with increasing frequency and little oversight. That’s made the potential of AI to become another form of weapon starkly apparent, and offered a glimpse of what’s to come during future conflicts, elections and other big events.

“It’s going to get worse — a lot worse — before it gets better,” said Jean-Claude Goldenstein, CEO of CREOpoint, a tech company based in San Francisco and Paris that uses AI to assess the validity of online claims. The company has created a database of the most viral deepfakes to emerge from Gaza. “Pictures, video and audio: with generative AI it’s going to be an escalation you haven’t seen.”

In some cases, photos from other conflicts or disasters have been repurposed and passed off as new. In others, generative AI programs have been used to create images from scratch, such as one of a baby crying amidst bombing wreckage that went viral in the conflict’s earliest days.

Other examples of AI-generated images include videos showing supposed Israeli missile strikes, or tanks rolling through ruined neighborhoods, or families combing through rubble for survivors.

In many cases, the fakes seem designed to evoke a strong emotional reaction by including the bodies of babies, children or families. In the bloody first days of the war, supporters of both Israel and Hamas alleged the other side had victimized children and babies; deepfake images of wailing infants offered photographic ‘evidence’ that was quickly held up as proof.

The propagandists who create such images are skilled at targeting people’s deepest impulses and anxieties, said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit that has tracked disinformation from the war. Whether it’s a deepfake baby, or an actual image of an infant from another conflict, the emotional impact on the viewer is the same.

The more abhorrent the image, the more likely a user is to remember it and to share it, unwittingly spreading the disinformation further.

“People are being told right now: Look at this picture of a baby,” Ahmed said. “The disinformation is designed to make you engage with it.”

Similarly deceptive AI-generated content began to spread after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. One altered video appeared to show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordering Ukrainians to surrender. Such claims have continued to circulate as recently as last week, showing just how persistent even easily debunked misinformation can be.

Each new conflict, or election season, provides new opportunities for disinformation peddlers to demonstrate the latest AI advances. That has many AI experts and political scientists warning of the risks next year, when several countries hold major elections, including the U.S., India, Pakistan, Ukraine, Taiwan, Indonesia and Mexico.

The risk that AI and social media could be used to spread lies to U.S. voters has alarmed lawmakers from both parties in Washington. At a recent hearing on the dangers of deepfake technology, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, said the U.S. must invest in funding the development of AI tools designed to counter other AI.

“We as a nation need to get this right,” Connolly said.

Around the world a number of startup tech firms are working on new programs that can sniff out deepfakes, affix watermarks to images to prove their origin, or scan text to verify any specious claims that may have been inserted by AI.

“The next wave of AI will be: How can we verify the content that is out there. How can you detect misinformation, how can you analyze text to determine if it is trustworthy?” said Maria Amelie, co-founder of Factiverse, a Norwegian company that has created an AI program that can scan content for inaccuracies or bias introduced by other AI programs.

Such programs would be of immediate interest to educators, journalists, financial analysts and others interested in rooting out falsehoods, plagiarism or fraud. Similar programs are being designed to sniff out doctored photos or video.

While this technology shows promise, those using AI to lie are often a step ahead, according to David Doermann, a computer scientist who led an effort at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to respond to the national security threats posed by AI-manipulated images.

Doermann, who is now a professor at the University at Buffalo, said effectively responding to the political and social challenges posed by AI disinformation will require both better technology and better regulations, voluntary industry standards and extensive investments in digital literacy programs to help internet users figure out ways to tell truth from fantasy.

“Every time we release a tool that detects this, our adversaries can use AI to cover up that trace evidence,” said Doermann. “Detection and trying to pull this stuff down is no longer the solution. We need to have a much bigger solution.”

Sandy Hook families offer to settle Alex Jones’ $1.5 billion legal debt

Sandy Hook families who won nearly $1.5 billion in legal judgments against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for calling the 2012 Connecticut school shooting a hoax have offered to settle that debt for only pennies on the dollar — at least $85 million over 10 years.

The offer was made in Jones’ personal bankruptcy case in Houston last week. In a legal filing, lawyers for the families said they believed the proposal was a viable way to help resolve the bankruptcy reorganization cases of both Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems.

But in the sharply worded document, the attorneys continued to accuse the Infowars host of failing to curb his personal spending and “extravagant lifestyle,” failing to preserve the value of his holdings, refusing to sell assets and failing to produce certain financial documents.

“Jones has failed in every way to serve as the fiduciary mandated by the Bankruptcy Code in exchange for the breathing spell he has enjoyed for almost a year. His time is up,” lawyers for the Sandy Hook families wrote.

The families’ lawyers offered Jones two options: either liquidate his estate and give the proceeds to creditors, or pay them at least $8.5 million a year for 10 years — plus 50% of any income over $9 million per year.

During a court hearing in Houston, Jones’ personal bankruptcy lawyer, Vickie Driver, suggested Monday that the $85 million, 10-year settlement offer was too high and unrealistic for Jones to pay.

“There are no financials that will ever show that Mr. Jones ever made that … in 10 years,” she said.

In a new bankruptcy plan filed on Nov. 18, Free Speech Systems said it could afford to pay creditors about $4 million a year, down from an estimate earlier this year of $7 million to $10 million annually. The company said it expected to make about $19.2 million next year from selling the dietary supplements, clothing and other merchandise Jones promotes on his shows, while operating expenses including salaries would total about $14.3 million.

Personally, Jones listed about $13 million in total assets in his most recent financial statements filed with the bankruptcy court, including about $856,000 in various bank accounts.

Under the bankruptcy case orders, Jones had been receiving a salary of $20,000 every two weeks, or $520,000 a year. But this month, a court-appointed restructuring officer upped Jones’ pay to about $57,700 biweekly, or $1.5 million a year, saying he has been “grossly” underpaid for how vital he is to the media company.

Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez on Monday rejected the $1.5 million salary, saying the pay raise didn’t appear to have been made properly under bankruptcy laws and a hearing needed to be held.

If Jones doesn’t accept the families’ offer, Lopez would determine how much he would pay the families and other creditors.

After 20 children and six educators were killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, Jones repeatedly said on his show that the shooting never happened and was staged in an effort to tighten gun laws.

Relatives, of many but not all, of the Sandy Hook victims sued Jones in Connecticut and Texas, winning nearly $1.5 billion in judgments against him. In October, Lopez ruled that Jones could not use bankruptcy protection to avoid paying more than $1.1 billon of that debt.

Relatives of the school shooting victims testified at the trials about being harassed and threatened by Jones’ believers, who sent threats and even confronted the grieving families in person, accusing them of being “crisis actors” whose children never existed.

Jones is appealing the judgments, saying he didn’t get fair trials and his speech was protected by the First Amendment.

Reports: Court document claims Meta knowingly designed platforms to hook kids

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook parent Meta Platforms deliberately engineered its social platforms to hook kids and knew — but never disclosed — it had received millions of complaints about underage users on Instagram but only disabled a fraction of those accounts, according to a newly unsealed legal complaint described in reports from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

The complaint, originally made public in redacted form, was the opening salvo in a lawsuit filed in late October by the attorneys general of 33 states.

Company documents cited in the complaint described several Meta officials acknowledging the company designed its products to exploit shortcomings in youthful psychology such as impulsive behavior, susceptibility to peer pressure and the underestimation of risks, according to the reports.

Others acknowledged Facebook and Instagram also were popular with children under age 13 who, per company policy, were not allowed to use the service.

Meta said in a statement to The Associated Press that the complaint misrepresents its work over the past decade to make the online experience safe for teens, noting it has “over 30 tools to support them and their parents.”

With respect to barring younger users from the service, Meta argued age verification is a “complex industry challenge.”

Instead, Meta said it favors shifting the burden of policing underage usage to app stores and parents, specifically by supporting federal legislation that would require app stores to obtain parental approval whenever youths under 16 download apps.

One Facebook safety executive alluded to the possibility that cracking down on younger users might hurt the company’s business in a 2019 email, according to the Journal report.

But a year later, the same executive expressed frustration that while Facebook readily studied the usage of underage users for business reasons, it didn’t show the same enthusiasm for ways to identify younger kids and remove them from its platforms, the Journal reported.

The complaint noted that at times Meta has a backlog of up to 2.5 million accounts of younger children awaiting action, according to the newspaper reports.