(NEW YORK) — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he is “confident that the law is on our side” as he leads a coalition of states suing to block T-Mobile and Sprint from merging into one of the nation’s largest wireless carriers in a consequential trial that got underway Monday.

The lawsuit from 14 state attorneys general (including the District of Columbia), led by California and New York, is one of the last hurdles T-Mobile must face before it can proceed with buying Sprint for $26 billion, and cutting the number of telecom giants in the nation from four to three.

“It’s hard to believe that going from a market with four big competitors to a market with three big companies will provide the amount of competition that keeps the playing field fair for consumers,” Becerra said in a press call Monday.

“The more choices we have, the more options we have to get the best, highest quality product at a fair price,” he added, calling it “common sense.”

Becerra argued the merger would hurt “particularly those who can afford it least — working Americans who continue to live on tight budgets.”

“We’re very confident that the law is on our side,” he said. “The T-Mobile-Sprint megamerger would leave consumers with fewer choices and higher prices.”

In October, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve the merger, and the Justice Department gave it the green light with conditions in July.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai formally endorsed the merger in August, saying in his recommendation for approval that it would advance 5G, the next-generation of wireless services, across the U.S.

“After one of the most exhaustive merger reviews in Commission history, the evidence conclusively demonstrates that this transaction will bring fast 5G wireless service to many more Americans and help close the digital divide in rural areas,” Pai said in a statement.

Pai also argued that “the merger will promote robust competition in mobile broadband, put critical mid-band spectrum to use, and bring new competition to the fixed broadband market.”

Still, the state AGs argue that reduced competition will hurt consumers, and will especially impact consumers from lower-income and minority communities.

New York Attorney General Letitia James argued in a statement announcing the lawsuit in June that the merger “would particularly affect lower-income and minority communities here in New York and in urban areas across the country.”

The current market is comprised of four major players: T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon and AT&T. Sprint and T-Mobile have high market shares among low-income populations, according to Becerra’s office.

If combined, they would dominate the market for prepaid mobile services, which do not require a credit check, thus hurting the low-income populations that may rely on this service, his office argued.

“The megamerger of T-Mobile and Sprint would reduce competition in the mobile marketplace and be bad for consumers, bad for workers, and bad for innovation,” James said in a statement to ABC News Monday. “We simply must protect consumers from unchecked corporate dominance and make sure competition in the marketplace yields better outcomes for cell phone customers and workers alike.”

Sprint declined ABC News’ request for comment Monday. T-Mobile did not immediately respond to request for comment Monday.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere has previously argued that the merger will “create a bigger and bolder competitor than ever before — one that will deliver the most transformative 5G network in the country, lower prices, better quality, unmatched value and thousands of jobs,” in a statement.

Sprint’s executive chairman Marcelo Claure previously referred to the day the merger received Justice Department clearance in July as “an important day for our country and, most important, American consumers and businesses.”

“We plan to build one of the world’s most advanced 5G networks, which will massively revolutionize the way consumers and businesses use their connected devices to enhance their daily lives,” Claure added.

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(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.”

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.”

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(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.

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(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

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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