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ABC News(ANAHEIM, Calif.) -- Sneaker Con, arguably the world’s largest and most popular sneaker convention show, was held this year at the Anaheim Convention Center where sneaker fanatics convened to buy, sell and trade the latest and rarest kicks from Air Jordans to Yeezys.

"This is the biggest event we’ve done in Southern California with more than 12,000 attendees and vendors,” Sneaker Con co-founder Yu-Ming Wu told ABC News. “2019 will be Sneaker Con’s biggest year to date with more than 125,000 attendees and vendors total.”

Since its inaugural launch in New York City in 2009, Sneaker Con has held over 100 events in over 30 cities worldwide, attended by over 100,000 so-called "sneakerheads" according to the event's website.

"Our dream was to really gather all the sneakerheads from around the area and globe," said Wu. "It’s like a Comic Con ... like-minded people who love sneakers and treat sneakers as an art form and fashion accessory."

Market research reveals the world has a lot of sneakerheads. According to research website Statista, "in 2017, the total global sneakers market was valued at approximately 62.5 billion U.S. dollars and was forecast to reach a value of 97.8 billion U.S. dollars by 2024."

Sneaker Cons were held in Florida, Washington D.C., Texas, Canada and Australia this year. The last show of the year will be in China.

Sneaker Con is also a vast online community. The brand has 61k followers on Twitter and a whopping 3.3 million on Instagram.

A collaboration with agency and management company IMG, has helped Sneaker Con expand its global presence and to "enhance the event experience with new collaborations, talent, programming and brands," said Tim Pernetti, executive vice president of Endeavor properties, the parent of IMG, in an interview with WWD.

Also helping to increase Sneaker Con's popularity is a technology called "LEGIT" that the event's organizers offer to authenticate sneakers on-site for free so that that buyers know they are purchasing authentic brands and not knock-offs.

Aleali May, who has designed Air Jordans for both men and women, believes Sneaker Con has allowed women to collaborate on creating sneakers that women like.

“Sneakers represent so much from a person’s style to what they been through and where they are going,” May said. “The great part about Sneaker Con is that it's taking all these people and seeing that we all have something in common and that starts with our sneakers.”

"I’ve honestly seen more women at sneaker conventions or things that deal with the context of sneakers way more than ever," she explained. "I feel that it also represents what the space is looking like outside of Sneaker Con."

Sneaker influencer and vendor, Jaysee Lopez, has seen Sneaker Con drastically grow the last five years he’s attended with more brands getting involved in the action.

"I’ve never been a part of anything else that I’ve cared for that’s like this," Lopez said. "It’s really awesome to see the growth and how it’s being embraced by everyone."

"When you come to Sneaker Con, other than trading shoes and buying shoes, it's really about having that community atmosphere here,” Wu said. "It’s a community in real life like any other community, this is for people who love sneakers."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



RossHelen/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The majority of job growth in high-tech industries is concentrated in just a handful of metropolitan areas in the U.S., and this regional divide drives "national inequality" as the rest of the nation struggles to keep up, according to a new report.

More than 90 percent of the country's growth in "innovation sector" jobs between 2005 and 2017 have taken place in just five cities: Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and San Diego, according to a report from Washington, D.C.-based think tanks the Brookings Institute and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

The "innovation sector" is comprised of the highest-tech, highest research and development sub-sector of "advanced industries," according to the researchers. Advanced industries was a previous delineation for the nation's highest-value industries according to the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings.

Lucrative jobs in the tech sector dominated Glassdoor's recent ranking of highest-paying jobs, and have consistently made notable hiring gains in Labor Department job reports.

This doesn't necessarily mean those looking for a job in fast-growing industries should flock to these five cities, the report points out. The concentration of rapid growth in these metropolises have led to other crises for residents -- including "spiraling real estate costs, traffic gridlock, and increasingly uncompetitive wage and salary costs."

For the "left-behind" places, as the report refers to them, the impact of this trend has resulted in a "brain drain, the hollowing out of the labor market, and industrial decline."

In "America’s left-behind places" where tech and innovation industries do not have a foothold, "shuttered plants, faded downtowns, and depopulated residential neighborhoods exemplify the economic and social costs of regional imbalance," the report states.

"In short, the geographic distance between the left-behind masses and the fortunate few in superstar hubs undercuts economic inclusion and contributes to national inequality," the report states.

The high cost of business and other expenses in these over-saturated tech hubs have also led some companies to move activity overseas, according to the report, leading to less innovation industry activity in the U.S.

The authors of the report are calling for federal investment into creating new tech hubs throughout the heartland to ameliorate this divide, and keep the U.S. innovation industry competitive.

"America’s successful tech hubs haven’t emerged by accident -- most are products of deliberate policy choices and federal government support," president of the ITIF and a co-author of the report, Robert D. Atkinson said in a statement.

The economics idea "that markets can be left to drive innovation has instead left the heartland behind," he added.

"A strong federal effort focused on helping some metros transition into self-sustaining tech hubs can help more Americans benefit from the significant opportunities enabled by high-tech industry growth,” Atkinson said.

Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of the report, said the divide has reached "emergency status."

"The nation’s tech-driven spatial divides have reached emergency status and won’t resolve themselves on their own," he said in a statement. "It’s time for the nation to push back against these trends and conduct a major experiment to see if we can help eight to 10 promising metros emerge as really dynamic anchors of growth in the nation’s heartland.”

There are many factors that contributed to why the tech industry took off in the select cities. One of them is because by the 2010s, the places began to reap the benefits of "cumulative causation," or starting out with a few advantages and then having them compound over time, according to the report.

The "earlier knowledge and firm advantages" of some of the large innovation hubs such as Boston, Silicon Valley and Seattle, "now attract even more talented workers, startups, and investment, creating a gravitational pull toward the nation’s critical innovation sectors while simultaneously draining key talent and business activity from other places," the report states.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



wmaster890/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A groundbreaking technology first developed in the U.S. that extends the shelf life of avocados has made its way across the pond.

Food technology startup Apeel Sciences announced Monday that it would stretch its distribution overseas with Nature's Pride so European markets can get a taste of its proprietary protective edible coating made from plants.

The tasteless, invisible layer that gets sprayed on the produce "keeps moisture inside produce and oxygen out, which dramatically slows the rate that produce spoils," according to the manufacturer.

"Nature's Pride has integrated the Apeel solution across its expansive avocado value chain to bring Apeel Avocados to Edeka and Netto in Germany, and Salling Group stores, Føtex and Bilka, in Denmark," the company wrote in a statement. "It’s an amazing opportunity to extend our impact on food waste and to bring avocados that stay fresher, longer to consumers in Europe, where avocados cross an ocean to arrive in stores."

The Santa Barbara-based company, backed by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, saw more than 50 percent reduction in food waste on average at the U.S. retail level, the company said, which prompted Apeel to expand its reach and impact globally.

Food waste has reached a staggering 88 million tons per year in Europe, with associated costs estimated at over 140 billion euros, according to the European Commission. Additionally, the comission found that households in Germany throw away almost every eighth grocery item, which means 6.7 million tons of food goes to waste in those homes per year.

"We're trying to build a world that works with nature, not against nature," Apeel CEO James Rogers said at the Food Tank Summit in November. "Rather than creating new chemicals that the world has never seen before, we are looking into the natural world."

Consumers can find Apeel produce by the Apeel brand mark on stickers, labels and in-store signage.

The Apeel Avocados are the first Apeel produce category from the company to arrive in Europe, but other categories are expected to roll out in the future.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Actor Sean Hunter, right, who portrayed the husband in that viral Peloton commercial is defending himself. Actor Sean Hunter, right, who portrayed the husband in that viral Peloton commercial is defending himself. (ABC News)(New York) -- Sean Hunter, the actor at the center of the now infamous Peloton ad, spoke out about the sting of public backlash and cancel culture on "Strahan, Sara & Keke."

“I kept watching it, trying to find what was negative about it. And I don't know, I just don't know,” Hunter said. “It was a two-day shoot ... I have one line ... we finished, and I went back to my normal life. And when it comes out, boom, all this negative backlash. It blows me away.”

Hunter played the role of the husband in the commercial, which now as more than 7 million views on YouTube alone. The character Hunter portrays in the ad buys his wife a Peloton indoor bike. His wife then documents her progress over a year using the bike and ends with the couple watching a video of her journey as they celebrate her progress together.

Social media quickly lit up with memes, videos & blurbs criticizing the ad, alleging the company was pushing a sexist and chauvinistic narrative. Peloton’s stock went down considerably shortly after the advertisement’s release.

Thank you for not giving up on me honey. I know I have a lot of work to do...I promise I’m going to fix this. You’re the best husband ever. pic.twitter.com/VJsrxVxZak

— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) December 2, 2019

Nothing says “maybe you should lose a few pounds” like gifting your already rail thin life partner a Peloton pic.twitter.com/E2M9gFdD5A

— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) December 2, 2019

“My face is now the face of the patriarchy,” Hunter continued. “It's so whoa, hold on a minute...slow your roll. That's not who I am. People have to remember I'm the actor, this isn't who I am. I'm a totally different person in real life. I'm a teacher. I teach children.”

Monica Ruiz, Hunter’s co-star who played the wife in the ad, also says the outcry online took her by surprise.

“I was happy to accept a job opportunity earlier this year from Peloton and the team was lovely to work with,” Ruiz said. “Although I’m an actress, I am not quite comfortable being in spotlight and I’m terrible on social media. So to say I was shocked and overwhelmed by the attention this week (especially the negative) is an understatement.”

Ruiz went on to say she felt grateful actor Ryan Reynolds helped her make light of the controversy in a separate advertising campaign for his distilled spirits brand.

“When Ryan and his production team called about Aviation Gin, they helped me find some humor in the situation,” Ruiz said. “I am grateful to both Peloton and now Aviation Gin for the work and giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do.”

Exercise bike not included. #AviationGin pic.twitter.com/jYHW74h81l

— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) December 7, 2019

Peloton also responded to the backlash in a statement to ABC News, saying, “Our holiday spot was created to celebrate that fitness and wellness journey. While we’re disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial, we are encouraged by- and grateful for- the outpouring of support we’ve received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate.”

Hunter told co-host’s Sara Haines, Keke Palmer & guest co-host Michael Symon he’d be interested in what the public’s reaction would be if the roles were reversed in the advertisement.

“What I want to see now is the follow-up commercial,” Hunter said. “I want to see my co-actor giving me the Peloton and then seeing my yearlong transformation. That's what I want to see.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



KenWiedemann/iStock(NEW YORK) -- One ugly Christmas sweater is definitely on the naughty list this year.

A men’s ugly sweater that was sold online through Walmart Canada depicted a smiling Santa Claus sitting at a table with three lines of white powder that many were quick to claim resembled cocaine, with the phrase “let it snow.”

Yall. Look at this description for this Christmas sweater from Walmart pic.twitter.com/lBdmKQ1JoZ

— Jason John (@HurrbaSousJohn) December 7, 2019

The wool-polyester blend pullover immediately attracted widespread backlash and the retailer told ABC News in a statement that it has "removed these products from our marketplace."

"These sweaters, sold by a third-party seller on Walmart.ca, do not represent Walmart’s values and have no place on our website," director of corporate affairs, Adam Grachnik, said. "We apologize for any unintended offence this may have caused."

The description for the garment, which has since been removed from the website, stated in part, "This Men's Let it Snow Ugly Christmas Sweater captures that moment when Santa is finally ready to enjoy that sweet, imported snow."

Nobody :
Walmart Christmas sweaters : pic.twitter.com/Q3gOHjZqtp

— M💋 (@Xoxo_M_) December 9, 2019

One shopper who seemed shocked by the product wrote on Twitter, "Excuse me [what], Walmart is advertising cocaine on its Christmas sweaters."

The knit garment that alluded to Santa's use of drugs was one of a few items that was ultimately removed from the third-party retailer's page.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



artisteer/iStock(NEW YORK) -- It's hard to believe, but there's just 10 days left before the Christmas shipping cutoff. With Thanksgiving falling on a much later date this year, retailers are now pushing consumers to get their shopping done in a shorter window than last year.

But on Monday, a new shopping holiday has spared us another day to stock up on deals and get those items that we probably missed on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

It's called Green Monday, a term coined by ebay in 2007 to describe the best sales day in December -- usually the Monday after Cyber Monday.

"Green Monday is another opportunity where if you did miss out on some of those Cyber Monday deals, you might see some of them come back on that day," said Regina Conway of the website Slick Deals. "We will see more discounts on things like electronics and apparel will continue to be a strong discount as well."

If you take a look online Monday, many prices for things found online like tech items are being sold at low prices as if it was still Black Friday.

At Target, a 32 GB iPad remains at the same price that it was two weeks ago on Black Friday at $249 -- $80 off the original price.

But what many will use this shopping day for is toys. And Regina Conway says that Monday is a good day to take advantage of those low prices.

"The other category that we really see typically through the first two weeks of December is toys. And that's a good time to really shop for it," she said.

At Walmart, toys like a 14-Doll LOL Surprise Set, is $35 off. And at Target, blanket toy discounts are offered, like spend $50 and get $10 off or spend $100 and get $25 off your purchase.

While there are many deals happening Monday online, Conway says Monday might be the only best day for deals as it gets closer to the holidays.

"There's no guarantee that you'll see better discounts as it gets closer to the holiday. So it's a good opportunity to tap into those offers and make that purchase if you're looking for something specific," she said.

Here are more deals to look out for on Monday:

Clothing

- Levis: 40% off entire site

- Macy's: 30% off whole site and 15% off beauty

- GAP, 50% off

- Old Navy, 50% off

- Ugg Boots, 30% off. Nordstrom sale price: $119, regular price: $179

Technology

- iPad 32 GB, Target sale price: $249. Original: $329

- iPad 64 GB, Best Buy sale price: $399. Original: $499

- Echo Dot, Amazon sale price: $24.95. Original: $49.99

- Mophie back up battery from B&H photo, sale price: $21.95, Original: $59.95

- SONY WH-1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Headphones, Best Buy sale price: $279. Original: $350

- Samsung 9.6 inch Galaxy Tab E, 16 GB, Best Buy sale price: $99.99 (save $100)

- Harman Kardon 330W Soundbar, Best Buy sale price: $479.99 (save $320)

Toys

- Target - spend $50 and get $10 off, or spend $100 and get $25 off.

- LOL Surprise 14-doll set $35 off at Walmart. Sale: $94, regular price: $129

Household items

- Dyson Airwrap and Hairdryer, Best Buy Deal: $549 with $50 Best Buy Gift Card, Original: $549

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Connecticut State Police(NEW YORK) --  A Tesla on Autopilot slammed into two vehicles on Saturday, one of which was a Connecticut State Police cruiser, officials said.

The driver of the Tesla told police that he put the car on Autopilot because he was checking on his dog in the backseat, according to a statement from Connecticut State Police.

The incident happened in the early morning hours Saturday on Interstate 95 in Norwalk.

Police had been called to the highway because of a disabled vehicle that was occupying a lane, authorities said.

As troopers were waiting for a tow truck for that car, the Tesla, described as a 2018 Model 3, was traveling northbound and struck the rear of the cruiser before continuing in the same direction and hitting the disabled vehicle, according to authorities.

The car was finally stopped several hundred feet ahead by another trooper.

The driver, who was not identified, was issued a misdemeanor summons for reckless driving and reckless endangerment, police said.

No one was seriously injured in the incident.

State police cited the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and said that while certain vehicles have some automated capabilities, there are none yet that are fully automated or self-driving.

"Regardless of your vehicles capabilities, when operating a vehicle your full attention is required at all times to ensure safe driving," state police said.

Tesla has issued similar statements in the wake of past Autopilot accidents, saying drivers must keep their hands on the wheel at all times.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



wingedwolf/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. economy added a solid 266,000 jobs in November, exceeding economists' exceptions, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday.

Average hourly earnings rose by 7 cents to $28.29 and unemployment remained at a 50-year low of 3.5%.

Employers added the most jobs in the health care and professional and technical services industries, the data showed.

November also saw a rise in manufacturing jobs, though this was likely due to unionized autoworkers returning to work after the strike at General Motors.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Uber(NEW YORK) -- Uber says it received nearly 6,000 reports of sexual assault from both riders and drivers across the United States in 2017 and 2018.

The San Francisco-based ride-hailing company voluntarily released the information, among other data, in its first-ever safety report on Thursday.

In 2017, Uber recorded 2,936 reports of sexual assault during a total of one billion trips throughout the United States. There were 3,045 reported sexual assaults the following year during 1.3 billion total trips.

Overall, riders accounted for 45% of the accused parties. The report noted that some assaults occurred between riders.

Among the sexual assault incidents, the company counted 464 reports of rape in 2017 and 2018. About 92% of the victims were riders and roughly 7% were drivers. Women and female-identifying individuals comprised 89% of the victims, while men and male-identifying individuals made up about 8%.

Uber said it saw a decrease of approximately 16% in the average incident rate of sexual assaults reported from 2017 to 2018. However, as its report noted, sexual assaults are often not reported, so the actual numbers could be much higher.

"I suspect many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they’re still too common," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said of the new report via Twitter. "Some people will appreciate how much we’ve done on safety; others will say we have more work to do. They will all be right."

During 2017 and 2018, 19 people died in physical assaults that occurred in Uber-related incidents. There were also 107 motor vehicle fatalities from Uber-related crashes in the same time frame.

"Most companies don’t talk about these hard issues, and they don’t share data about serious safety incidents. We believe it’s time for a new approach," Uber said in a statement announcing the report. "Keeping this information in the dark doesn’t make anyone safer."

The 84-page report comes as Uber faces scrutiny regarding safety concerns. Last week, London's transit authority refused to renew the company's license to operate in the British capital, citing "a pattern of failures by the company" that "placed passengers and their safety at risk." Uber said it plans to appeal the decision.

Over the past year, Uber has partnered with sexual assault prevention networks and other safety groups. Uber has also added new safety features, including more rigorous background checks, an in-app emergency button, and technology that allows the company to check in with customers if it detects a potential crash or an unexpected long stop during a trip.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Hurtigruten AS(NEW YORK) -- Cruise ships conjure up images of fun in the sun, beautiful vistas and crystal-blue waters.

But along with cargo and other large ships, they are also increasingly being scrutinized as polluters -- both in terms of sewage and greenhouse gas emissions.

With the number of passengers exploding -- nearly doubling from just a decade ago to around 30 million this year, according to industry estimates -- and the number of ships around 300, some are looking to a more environmentally friendly solution.

Norway-based transport company Hurtigruten AS, which offers expeditions to Antarctica and the Arctic, has constructed the first hybrid-powered expedition cruise ship to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the marine transport industry.

The technology on the ship, named the MS Roald Amundsen after the famous Norwegian explorer who sailed the polar regions, will allow it to reduce emissions by 20%, Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten AS, claimed.

"Picture a Prius but at the scale of a 530-passenger cruise ship," Skjeldam said while aboard the vessel's 18-day maiden voyage that sailed from Valparaiso, Chile and through the Chilean fjords and Antarctica.

According to the company, the ship's two large battery packs allow the vessel's engines to operate optimally, reducing emissions "substantially," and also run solely on battery power "for limited periods of time."

Efforts like this are "critically important" to the environment, Jaimie Levin, director of West Coast operations for the non-profit Center for Transportation and the Environment, told ABC News.

"Some of the worst emissions come from large ships and cargo movement," Levin said.

The maritime industry accounts for a fraction of all climate change emissions in the world -- about 3-4%, according to Jason Hanlin, CTE's director of technology development, told ABC News.

But the impacts from each vessel can be large. The German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, an environmental association, claimed in 2017 that the emissions from a medium-sized cruise ship, which burned 150 tons of fuel a day, was equal to that of one million cars. The United Nations estimates that a single large shipping vessel produces as much sulfur as 50 million cars.

In Alaska, which is a stop for many cruise ships, concerns about emissions increased markedly in 2017 and 2018, according to the state's government and an air quality monitoring program is in place in the capital of Juneau.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents more than 95% of the industry, says 68% of its ships have exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS), which reduce sulfur and carbon emissions, and 75% of new ships not relying on liquefied natural gas (LNG) will have EGCS installed. The association says 26 of its ships run on LNG and 44% of new ships plan to rely on LNG for propulsion.

On its website, CLIA says the cruise industry is "at the forefront in developing responsible environmental practices and innovative technologies that lead in environmental stewardship" including EGCS and LNG fuel. "Energy efficient design standards will reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2025," the group says.

The construction of the MS Roald Amundsen falls in line with the Center's goals, which include making marine vessels "much cleaner" with fuel cells and batteries, Levin said.

The company says it was inspired to make their ships more environment-friendly after spending more than 125 years sailing Polar waters and witnessing first-hand the rapid melting of glaciers, the reduction of wildlife and the amount of plastic polluting the ocean.

"Our staff have seen with their own eyes that nature has changed," Skjeldam said.

Hurtigruten AS plans to confront the travel industry as a whole and "completely" refurbish its entire fleet to be hybrid-powered or run on LNG or bio-oil, Skjeldam said. The MS Fridtjof Nansen, a sister ship to the MS Roald Amundsen, which will also be hybrid powered, is expected to be delivered from the shipyard by the end of the year, and the company aims to eventually install as many battery packs on its ships that will allow them to sail for longer periods without releasing any emissions at all.

The company has also become the first cruise line to ban single-use plastics in all its ships and hotels, Skjeldam said.

While the company has noble environmental goals, the MS Roald Amundsen, which counts Alaska and the Antarctic among its destinations, features all the on-board amenities and luxuries travelers would expect from a modern cruise ship, including large state rooms, pool, gym, sauna, spa, lounge and bar and three restaurants.

"This is a very, very comfortable ship," Skjeldam said. "Our guests will be outside a lot of the day to experience nature and animal life. It's very, very nice to come back to a comfortable ship and relax between the experiences."

In addition, the vessel features a science center on board, where passengers can learn about the challenges the environment is currently facing and how they can make a positive impact, and takes tourists on unique expeditions that include sampling surrounding waters to see how much plankton or microplastics are in it.

The guests have responded enthusiastically to the adding the science-based ventures into their vacation time, Skjeldam said.

"If you can also change people's minds, when they go back home, they do major change," he said. "People feel good. It's a great way to vacation, and they're active, and they learn."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



baona/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Your car, unfortunately, will not fly a la The Jetsons in the next decade.

It will, however, likely be a crossover SUV that still requires a human driver. That Uber or Lyft ride? Expect an autonomous vehicle to pick you up in certain cities. Keys, like manual transmissions, will fade into oblivion. Gasoline refineries will still be in business but charging stations for electric vehicles will become more prevalent, experts say.

The next 10 years for the automobile could look very similar to the decade we're about to close out -- or radically different, depending on tech innovations, government regulations and new players in the highly competitive industry.

Here's what some longtime experts are predicting for drivers and automakers alike:

Mobility

Cellphones are expected to supplant the key fob and be able to remotely start a vehicle, lock it and locate its parked location, similar to what can be found now in Lincolns and Hyundais. This technology will go from niche to ubiquitous, according to Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Cox Automotive.

"The industry is on the cusp of incredibly exciting things," he said. "Drivers will have the ability to connect to the car even when they're not near it. The car will be a rolling piece of information."

Electrification

Electric vehicles will still face challenges in the market but they’ll become more common on the road than they are now.

"They won't be the majority of vehicles sold in the U.S. in 10 years," said Brauer. "Electric vehicles do not make sense in a lot of areas. But we will see viable options for driving a longer distance in these cars."

Brandon Mason, director and U.S. mobility leader at PwC, expects mass adoption of electric vehicles will take place before driverless cars go mainstream. Pure EVs account for 1% of the U.S. market now. That number could rise to 10% in the next decade, he said.

"Automakers are making big bets on EVs," he explained. "There's a significant amount of capital in EVs now. But we won't see an inflection point until the middle of the next decade. Battery packs are still cost-prohibitive."

China and Europe will continue to lead the way in electrification from a regulatory standpoint, according to Mark Wakefield, automotive analyst and managing director at Alix Partners.

Like Mason, Wakefield forecasts EVs to account for 10% of the U.S. auto market by 2030.

"No one is doubting this is the future, but the question is how long" before EVs are widespread, he said.

Hybrids will no longer be "special" but rather the status quo in the coming decade, said Eric Tingwall, print director at Car and Driver magazine.

"Some form of electric propulsion will be in all new vehicles sold," he noted, adding that EVs could make up an even bigger portion of the market -- 20% -- by the end of 2030.

Autonomous vehicles

Self-driving cars could replace taxis and ride-sharing vehicles in urban cities, Brauer said.

Like electric vehicles, high costs are another hurdle for automakers to overcome with autonomous vehicles, Mason pointed out. Vehicles with level four and five autonomy will arrive by 2030 at the earliest, he said.

"There's several hundred thousand dollars of technology in each of these vehicles," he said. "I don't see private ownership of self-driving cars happening for the foreseeable future."

Steering wheels and pedals are not going away in the next decade and young people will still be required to pass driving tests, according to Tingwall. But autonomous systems will be more "capable and confident," he said.

"Change is happening very quickly in the auto industry," he said. The timelines for a lot of this technology, however, are "ambitious," he added.

Newer systems will allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road -- but only in certain conditions, like highway driving, he said.

"There will be some type of advanced cruise control," he said. "You can watch YouTube videos and check social media."

Wakefield said he cannot wait for the day when cars will be able to drive themselves to dealers for maintenance or be summoned by owners in a parking lot.

"A car in 2030 will be able to do so many more things for you," he said. "2020 cars will look like relics."

A shrinking industry?

Brauer anticipates smaller, independent marques will be acquired by industry giants. China will likely continue its buying streak, adding to its portfolio of brands.

"Could China own General Motors in 10 years? It's not out of the question," he said.

Consolidation in the automotive market could accelerate, Mason agreed. But the impact on drivers may be modest.

"If the number of nameplates is reduced, it's not necessarily a bad thing for consumers," he said. "There will still be plenty of options for consumers."

He added, "I see a lot of disruption in the industry over the next decade."

Sales slowdown

Tingwall expects new car sales to dip as transaction prices rise.

"Anybody looking for an affordable vehicle will be in a crossover," he said. "We'll see a middle class that doesn't have the purchasing power to buy a new car. The market will shrink for new vehicles."

Subscription services will also gain in popularity as fewer new cars are purchased.

"They'll be like a lease, but for a shorter term," he explained.

Automakers, in an effort to cut costs, will team up to share vehicle platforms and powertrains, partnerships that exist currently between Ford and Volkswagen and Ford and Rivian, Tingwall said. Third parties in Asia will build these platforms, homogenizing the parts under the car's hood. But not all automakers may survive the next decade.

"If there is an economic downturn, the industry will be squeezed," he said. "We will certainly lose a few niche, high-end automakers."

Wakefield forecasts auto sales to stay strong in the coming years, but a downturn in the market "will come."

The market "is cyclical," he explained, noting that sales could drop to 15 million annual units from the recent trend of 17 million units.

"We won't stay at 15 million for years. It will recover," he said.

Crossovers will be the vehicle du jour for drivers in the next decade, further cementing the demise of the sedan.

"CUVs will be dominant and what everyone will be driving," Wakefield said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



jetcityimage/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A viral tweet reveals an Uber business place in Rhode Island had separate bathrooms for employees and drivers, at a time when tensions between the two groups at the ride-share company are already running high.

"I’ve just always wondered why Uber viewed us as two separate classes," Erika Betts, who snapped the photo and shared it on Twitter, told ABC News Thursday.

"These signs are commercially made, somebody made them, somebody ordered them, somebody paid for them," she added.

Betts, 28, said she has been an Uber driver for over two years and was at the Uber Greenlight Hub office in Providence seeking help after finding out via a notification that her account had been deactivated after she says a passenger complained about a surge fare.

"I was waiting to be seen by a representative and I was just noticing the bathroom signs on the door," she said. "It’s always made me a little uncomfortable, I'm not sure what prompted me to tweet about it now."

Even if drivers wanted to use the employee restroom, Betts says it was always locked and "you need a key to get in there."

Uber responded to ABC News' request for comment by pointing to a response to Bett's tweet from Andrew Macdonald, a senior vice president at the company, who said he "looked into this."

"This is not our policy and it's absolutely unacceptable," Macdonald wrote. "The signs are coming down today."

Macdonald added in a follow-up tweet that the "bathroom was also being used for employee storage, but that's not an excuse. I don't believe this is the case anywhere else (and it's certainly not our design policy) but we're doing a full review now."

An Uber spokesperson told ABC News Thursday that the Providence Greenlight Hub was the only location with this signage and that the signs have been taken down.

The signs still sparked outrage on social media, and even caught the eye of a lawmaker.

New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, tweeted a link to a news story of the separate bathrooms at the Providence office.

"Siri, show me what classicism looks like," she wrote.

In September, California passed a bill that would extend new protections to employees of so-called "gig economy" companies including Lyft and Uber, essentially forcing companies to recognize formerly contract workers as employees.

Uber said at the time that the California bill, which is set to go into effect in January, "does not automatically reclassify any rideshare drivers from independent contractors to employees" and that it will "respond to claims of misclassification in arbitration and in court as necessary."

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DenisTangneyJr/iStock(BOSTON) -- Tufts University announced plans to sever ties with the Sacklers on Thursday, saying it would remove the billionaire family's name from buildings and medical programs due to concerns over their reported role in the opioid crisis.

University officials said the school would end its decades-long relationship with the family that owns OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma, citing concerns from students and staff about "the negative impact the Sackler name has on them each day."

"Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others have shared with us the negative impact the Sackler name has on them each day, noting the human toll of the opioid epidemic in which members of the Sackler family and their company, Purdue Pharma, are associated," school officials said Thursday. "We are grateful to those who have shared their thoughts with us. It is clear that the Sackler name, with its link to the current health crisis, runs counter to the school's mission."

Daniel Connolly, an attorney for members of the Sackler family, said they're seeking to have the "improper decision reversed."

"Tufts acknowledges their extraordinary decision about removal of the family name from campus is not based on the findings of their report, but rather is based on unproven allegations about the Sackler family and Purdue," Connolly said in a statement Thursday. "We will be seeking to have this improper decision reversed and are currently reviewing all options available to us."

Purdue is currently facing more than 1,000 lawsuits for alleged deceptive marketing and contributing to the current U.S. opioid crisis. Individual members of the Sackler family who were involved in the businesses are being sued in a small fraction of these cases.

The Massachusetts university, which has held a relationship with the family since the 1980s, announced its decision in a letter co-signed by the board of trustees’ chairman, Peter Dolan, and university President Anthony Monaco.

The school acknowledged the family's many contributions, noting that the Sacklers would be "part of this institution forever" and that the university wasn't "seeking to erase this chapter of Tufts' history."

"It is part of this institution forever, and we are committed to appropriately recognizing and contextualizing the involvement of family members over the years," the letter said. "In taking these actions, we will more fully enable our university and medical school to move forward in support of their missions and to help the countless individuals and families who have suffered as a result of the opioid crisis."

The school also announced a $3 million endowment to support to support education, research and programs aimed at addiction treatment prevention.

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Dafinchi/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Chinese tech giant Huawei is not backing down from an ongoing battle with U.S. regulators by taking new legal action on Thursday against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over an order it calls "unlawful."

Huawei filed a court petition to overturn an FCC order from November that bans wireless carriers in rural America from purchasing Huawei equipment through a government subsidy fund known as the Universal Service Fund (USF).

The FCC has previously argued the order was imposed because Huawei poses a potential national security threat.

Huawei fought back, saying in a new statement that the FCC's order is "unlawful on the grounds that it fails to offer Huawei required due process protections in labelling Huawei as a national security threat."

"Banning a company like Huawei, just because we started in China -- this does not solve cyber security challenges,” Song Liuping, Huawei’s chief legal officer said at a news conference.

"Huawei also submitted 21 rounds of detailed comments, explaining how the order will harm people and businesses in remote areas," he added. "The FCC ignored them all."

Liuping accused the FCC of shutting down "joint efforts to connect rural communities in the U.S."

Glen Nager, an attorney for Huawei, added that the FCC has "has no national security expertise," and it is not in their authority to label Huawei as a threat.

"The designation is simply shameful prejudgment of the worst kind,” said Nager at the news conference.

The FCC did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Thursday.

Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, wrote in an October blog post announcing the order to block USF funds from being used to purchase Huawei equipment that "we simply can't take a risk" when it comes to national security.

"I’m circulating an order that would prohibit the use of Universal Service Fund dollars to purchase equipment or services from any company -- like Huawei -- that poses a national security threat," Pai said. "Going forward, we simply can’t take a risk when it comes to our networks and hope for the best."

In November, after the order was adopted, Pai said the agency took these actions based on "longstanding concerns from the executive and legislative branches about the national security threats posed by certain foreign communications equipment manufacturers," he said in a statement.

Pai added that Huawei has "close ties to China’s Communist government and military apparatus" and is "subject to Chinese laws broadly obligating them to cooperate with any request from the country’s intelligence services and to keep those requests secret."

"Moreover, we know that hidden 'backdoors' to our networks in routers, switches, and other network equipment can allow a hostile adversary to inject viruses and other malware, steal Americans’ private data, spy on U.S. companies, and more," Pai wrote.   

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sestovic/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Two Russian nationals have been indicted on bank fraud and international computer hacking charges over an alleged decade-long scheme that “deployed two of the most dangerous financial malware ever used and resulted in tens of millions of dollars of losses to victims worldwide," according to the Department of Justice.

Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev, described by prosecutors as leaders of “one of the most sophisticated transnational cybercrime syndicates in the world,” are accused in the 10-count indictment of deploying a malware system designed to steal personal and financial information, including online bank information, from infected computers.

The FBI on Thursday issued a wanted bulletin for both individuals, and the State Department announced a $5 million award for the arrest of Yakubets specifically.

"These two cases demonstrate our commitment to unmasking the perpetrators behind the world's most egregious cyberattacks," Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said.

According to an indictment unsealed Thursday, the malware deployed by Yakubets and Turashev infected tens of thousands of computers across North America and Europe, including two banks, a school district, four Pennsylvania companies and a firearm manufacturer.

The indictment said the malware was delivered to victims via "phishing emails," which Yakubets and Turashev would draft to appear as if they were coming from legitimate companies and organizations. Once victims would click on a link in the phishing emails, it would infect the computer and allow hackers to "hijack" a computer session and pull up a prompt requesting the user's bank account information.

Once the hackers were in possession of the bank credentials, they would use "money mules" to funnel the funds into foreign bank accounts. In one case, an employee of a Pennsylvania school district clicked on a graphic in a phishing email sent by Yakubets and Turashev, and the two later attempted to transfer nearly $1 million from the district's bank account to a bank in Ukraine.

The DOJ has connected Yakubets and Turashev to cyberattacks as recently as March of this year, according to the indictment. As a part of its investigation, the U.S. in 2010 transmitted a mutual legal assistance treaty request to Russia, and according to Bowdich, the Russian government was "helpful to a point."

Since that exchange, however, there is believed to have been no further communication between the two countries regarding Yakubets and Turashev.

Speaking to reporters at the Justice Department, Bowdich said the case stresses the need for all Americans to practice "good cyber hygiene," such as regularly updating online passwords, implementing two-factor authentication on sensitive accounts, and heightened awareness and suspicion regarding links sent over email.

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