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St. Paul City Council to convene advisory committee around early education, child care grants

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St. Paul City Council To Convene Advisory Committee Around Early Education, Child Care Grants

The St. Paul City Council voted 6-0 on Wednesday to convene a legislative advisory committee that will take a deep dive on the question of how to craft and fund an early education and child care initiative aimed at the city’s lowest-income families.

The work group will be expected to report back to the council in the first few months of 2023, with the general expectation that voters would get to weigh in on the proposal through the November 2023 ballot.

To fund grants to child care and pre-k providers, the seven-member city council had been poised Wednesday to vote on whether to put a special property tax assessment on the Nov. 8 ballot this year. But the St. Paul All Ready for Kindergarten coalition, led in part by Council Member Rebecca Noecker, recognized they had not lined up the five requisite council votes. Noecker withdrew the ballot proposal during the council meeting, replacing it instead with a request to assemble a council advisory group by Sept. 28.

Noecker said she will present a follow-up resolution in the weeks to come naming members, likely including Council Members Mitra Jalali and Nelsie Yang, child care providers, educators, parents and other members “representative of our full community.” The city council would make the appointments and report back by March. Yang, who is on maternity leave, was absent Wednesday.

“Right now we are failing too many of our kids right when they need us most,” said Noecker, addressing the city council. “Most brain development happens right when they turn 5… Child care in Minnesota is more expensive than almost anywhere else in the nation.”

She added that two things were clear: “First, this is an idea whose time has come,” she said. “And second, people want the details. … I’m really excited we are taking this step forward. It really takes the conversations we’re having out in the community and formalizes them, puts them into a process where we can get to actual legislation.”

Following the council vote, SPARK released a statement calling the decision “a huge step forward.” They noted that the first few months of the initiative would have been dedicated to organizing the administrative infrastructure, anyway, so delaying a final decision on funding to November 2023 would not necessarily delay implementation by a full year.

NO CURRICULUM NECESSARY?

Quoted in the statement, St. Paul School Board Member Halla Henderson, a SPARK organizer, said that “every family deserves access to an early learning program that will prepare their kids to succeed in kindergarten. It’s heartening to know that our city is designing a program that will get us to that goal next year.”

Critics had noted, however, that the SPARK initiative, while seemingly geared toward preparing kids for kindergarten, could fund child care programs that offer no educational curriculum at all.

Organizers had tossed out a previous idea, floated in 2018, to use a “Parent Aware” curriculum rating system to determine which providers would qualify for grants. Instead, SPARK has favored eliminating ratings in order to more inclusive of a wider variety of child care programs, including those reflective of different cultures.

In an email to the city council, attorney Peter Hendricks noted that “early care and education” was not defined under the proposed ballot language. “Would all licensed daycare programs qualify, including in-home day care? Should property taxpayers subsidize in-home day care?” he wrote. Hendricks also pointed out that the “low-income” population in question was not defined in the ballot language, though organizers have said children living at 185 percent of the federal poverty level would qualify, as might others as funding allows.

The proposed Nov. 8 ballot language, now scrapped, would have asked taxpayers to fund grants to providers, with the goal of offering free care for 5,000 low-income kids ages 3 and 4 by the fourth or fifth year of implementation.

TAX ASSESSMENT

A 10-year property tax assessment was projected to grow by $2.6 million annually, totaling $2.6 million in the first year, $5.2 million in the second year, $7.8 million in the third year, and so on.

For a median-value St. Paul home, that would add roughly $20 to property taxes in the first year, $40 in the second year, $60 in the third, and so forth.

Hendricks and others have urged the city to look to alternate funding sources, such as state and federal funding, rather than the city’s property tax, which could financially overburden the same families the proposal aims to help. A similar proposal to fund early childhood education was floated in 2018 using the city sales tax.

Jalali said future conversations are warranted, but “we do want to address what’s ultimately a gap in our community in an area of tremendous need” and her constituents believe “this is something we could lead on as a community.”

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US gas prices fall below $4 a gallon

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Us Gas Prices Fall Below $4 A Gallon

U.S. gasoline prices fell below $4 a gallon on Thursday, returning to their lowest level since March, a drop that provided relief to Americans struggling with the skyrocketing cost of everything from groceries on rent.

The national average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline now stands at $3.99, according to AAA. That’s higher than a year ago, but still well below the peak near $5.02 in mid-June. Energy costs are fueling general measures of inflation, so the decline is also good news for policymakers who have struggled to contain price increases and for President Biden, who has pledged reduce gas costs.

The national average includes a wide range of prices, from nearly $5 a gallon in Oregon and Nevada to around $3.50 in Texas and Oklahoma. But, broadly speaking, the decline reflects a number of factors: weaker demand, as high costs have kept some drivers off the roads; a sharp drop in world oil prices in recent months; and the fact that a handful of states have suspended gasoline taxes.

Whatever the causes, the lower prices are a welcome change for drivers for whom the added expense – often $10-15 more for a tank of gas – had become another hurdle as they sought to regain a normal life after the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have new diseases and rising inflation, and people are expecting a recession,” said Zindy Contreras, a student and part-time waitress in Los Angeles, where gas prices are near 5. $40 a gallon. “If I didn’t have to worry about my tank of gas costing $70, that would be a huge relief, for once.”

Ms. Contreras only half-filled her 2008 Mazda 3 due to higher prices, which cost her between $25 and $30 each visit to the pump, and she had found opportunities to carpool with friends . These days, Ms Contreras typically takes gas twice a week, driving 15 miles to and from work each week and an additional 10 to 50 miles a week, depending on her plans.

“The pressure on affordability becomes very real when you see these high prices at the gas pump,” said Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at S&P Global. “So in that sense, it’s definitely a positive sign for those people who are struggling.”

That cushion – money not spent on gasoline that can go elsewhere – extends to businesses as well, especially as the price of diesel fuel also falls. Diesel, which is used to power, for example, farm equipment, construction machinery and long-haul trucks, also fell from June’s record, but at a slower pace than gasoline prices .

Lower gasoline prices are also good news for the economy, as businesses are under less pressure to pass on energy costs to their customers, which would add to the country’s inflation problem.

The government announced this week that consumer price inflation slowed in July to an annual rate of 8.5% from 9.1% in June, largely thanks to lower petrol prices . If it persists, the slowdown in inflation could allow the Federal Reserve to ease its interest rate hike campaign.

It would also be something of a victory for Mr Biden, who has spent the past several weeks clamoring for lower gas prices, even as he says he expects to do more to cut costs. Mr Biden has criticized oil companies for their record profits thanks to high oil and gas prices, and this year he released some of the country’s oil stocks in a bid to prevent prices from rising too fast.

“I will continue to do what I can to bring down the price of gasoline at the pump,” he said during a briefing in late July.

Even as they watch prices fall, economists and consumers say they wonder if this is a temporary reversal.

“I’m not ready for it to go a little higher and then fight here to fill it up,” said Christina Beliard, a 27-year-old fashion influencer in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Ms. Beliard bought a Jeep Wrangler last year but now regrets the purchase because the vehicle isn’t as fuel efficient as the Toyota Camry she used to drive. For work, she sometimes has to drive to her accounts on TikTok and Instagram, platforms on which she promotes brands, and to attend events in New York, about 60 miles from her home.

Connecticut is one of the states that has suspended its gasoline tax until November. And Ms. Beliard, who used to spend $95 to $100 a week to fill up her Jeep, is now paying $74 to $80. Yet she is tired of the high tab.

“I’m trying to figure out, how long is this going to last?” ” she says.

This is a difficult question to answer. More than half of the cost of gasoline at the pump is determined by global oil prices, and these are volatile and subject to a myriad of forces, many of which are difficult to predict.

Oil prices fell to their lowest point since the start of the war in Ukraine in February, a drop that reflects growing concern that a global recession will hit demand for crude. Prices could rise again for several reasons: the tide of war could further hamper global oil supplies, energy investors’ views on the economy could change, and hurricanes later this year could damage refineries and pipelines. from the Gulf Coast, choking off the supply.

For now, however, the steady decline is providing respite for Americans worried about their finances as the economy slows.

“If gasoline prices stay at or near the levels they’ve been at, that would mean a lot more cushion for households,” Ms Bovino said.

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Albuquerque man charged with murdering 2 Muslim men knew them, police say

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Albuquerque Man Charged With Murdering 2 Muslim Men Knew Them, Police Say
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The man accused of murdering two Muslim men this summer in Albuquerque knew the victims, according to court records.

Muhammad Atif Syed, 51, has been charged with two counts of murder in the murders of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41. An investigation is underway to determine if Syed was involved in the murders of two other Muslim men in the area.

Murders Spread Fear and Panic in Albuquerque’s Muslim Community

Syed was arrested Monday after authorities followed him from a Costco to his home in Albuquerque, where they found a Volkswagen Jetta matching the description of the vehicle police had previously asked the public to watch.

Syed left the Jetta’s house before authorities detained him in Santa Rosa, NM, halfway between Albuquerque and the Texas border. He told officers he was traveling to Houston “to find a new place for his family to live because the situation in Albuquerque was bad,” and mentioned recent shootings of Muslims, according to court records.

The shootings – a string of four killings over the past year, including three in a 10-day period – had rocked Albuquerque’s 5,000-strong Muslim community. Some businesses closed early, refused to go out after dark and stopped going to daily prayers at a local mosque, the Islamic Center of New Mexico, where armed guards were posted. At least three of the shootings followed a pattern in which the victim was ambushed and left for dead, police said.

During Hussein’s killing last month, police say the gunman hid in a bush near an alley, waiting for Hussein to park and get out of his vehicle, at which point he was shot “through the bush several times”. Police found multiple firearms in Syed’s home and vehicle, Deputy Police Commander Kyle Hartsock told a news conference on Tuesday, including at least one that matched casings found at the scene. two murders.

In an interview with a detective from Albuquerque Police Headquarters, Syed said he’s known Hussain since 2016 and that he knew Hussein through “parts of the community.” Both victims were regular members of the mosque, center spokesman Tahir Gauba told The Washington Post. (Although the men shared a similar surname, they were unrelated, Gauba said.)

Police said “an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shooting.”

Syed denied any involvement in the killings, police said. His daughter told KRQE, a local television news station: “I believe they are going to release my father. He did not do anything. »

His daughter and wife told the station they knew three of the victims but that Syed was not responsible for the murders. Shaheen Syed, Syed’s eldest son, told police he knew about the shooting but was not involved.

The elder Syed told authorities that he and his son sometimes go into the desert to shoot his AK-47 – an activity he described to police as “hunting” – and that he enjoys it. gun because he had one in Afghanistan. He told the police that he fought the Taliban there.

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Conversational intelligence firm Jiminny raises $16.5 million to unlock sales team insights – TechCrunch

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Conversational Intelligence Firm Jiminny Raises $16.5 Million To Unlock Sales Team Insights - Techcrunch

Jiminny, a UK-based conversational intelligence platform that companies use to record, transcribe and analyze communications from across sales teams and other customer-facing teams, announced today today that it had raised $16.5 million in a Series A funding round.

Founded in London in 2016, Jiminny provides companies with the technology to better understand how well their sales or customer support teams are interacting with their customers through voice, video, email and mobile. messaging.

By integrating into a company’s broader technology stack, including calendars, CRMs, dialers and video conferencing tools, Jiminny can provide insights such as which staff are most successful in converting that “call from initial discovery” into a serious prospect (or even a sale), and dive right into the call that made it possible.

Jiminny: Sales Team Data from ‘Discovery Call’

Businesses can also use Jiminny to identify customer sentiment and satisfaction, and pinpoint messages that sales and marketing teams need to focus on, for example.

A central part of Jiminny is its data, which breaks down conversations in terms of metrics such as talk-to-listening ratio, listening skills, and monologues, to show which staff is best at which skill, and which of them. between them offers the best results. From there, companies can identify the practices that work best and use that information to train other staff.

Conversational Intelligence Firm Jiminny Raises $16.5 Million To Unlock Sales Team Insights - Techcrunch

Jiminny: dive into engagement statistics

On top of that, Jiminny offers a “chat and whisper” feature, which is basically a live coaching tool that allows executives and senior sales reps to join a voice or video call and talk to new colleagues. what they should say.

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The nascent conversational intelligence space is heating up, with companies like Observe.ai recently securing $125 million in funding, while Gong hit a $7.25 billion valuation with a fundraising round. $250 million fund. In the area of ​​mergers and acquisitions, Zoominfo acquired Chorus.ai last year for $575 million shortly after Allego acquired Refract.

According to Jiminny founder and CEO Tom Lavery, this has been driven (predictably enough) by the rise of remote and hybrid working, with companies looking for new ways to generate insights and upskill those working in remote locations. disparate.

“The shift to hybrid working over the past two years has led to explosive growth in demand for conversational intelligence tools and solutions with adjacent capabilities such as voice artificial intelligence technology, for example,” said Lavery at TechCrunch. “This comes as customer service and sales reps look to add these tools to their existing sales technology stack, scale up operations when operating remotely, and formalize and improve staff coaching.”

While it’s clear that Jiminny operates in a busy space, the company says it stands out on several fronts, including the range of languages ​​it supports – businesses can use Jiminny to transcribe over 30 languages , including French, Spanish, German, and Japanese, and turn them into actionable data in English. On top of that, Jiminny also touts its ability to provide summaries of long sales calls, while supporting a wider range of CRMs compared to rivals in the space.

Despite only raising $2.5 million in seed funding over its six-year run, Jiminny has amassed a pretty impressive list of clients including Cision and Just Eat. And with an additional $16.5 million in the bank, the company has a solid financial foundation to build on that.

“Our funding round will help accelerate our expansion into more markets with ongoing product development,” Lavery said. “We will also double our research and development efforts to drive innovation that will benefit our customers.”

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Massachusetts wants your bacon – WSJ

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Massachusetts Wants Your Bacon - Wsj

Americans are bringing home less bacon as pork prices have jumped 8.5% over the past year. Now animal rights activists in Massachusetts are piling on costly farm regulations that could inflate pork prices and cause shortages in the Northeast.

In 2016, Bay State voters approved a referendum that would ban the sale of products from farms that confine “any breeding pig [sow], calf reared for the meat of a veal or laying hen in a manner which prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs or turning freely. Pig farmers would be the most affected since almost all are housed in individual pens.

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From high-spec cameras to verification, how Delhi police provide security

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From High-Spec Cameras To Verification, How Delhi Police Provide Security

By CNBCTV18.com August 11, 2022, 1:18 p.m. IST (Released)

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Delhi police are said to have taken “irreproachable and infallible” security measures for Independence Day. Here’s what police say they plan to provide security on August 15.

Strict security measures were taken in Delhi ahead of Independence Day celebrations. From heavy police deployment to the use of high-spec cameras, Delhi police have pulled up their socks to mitigate any threat on August 15 – when the country celebrates its 75th Independence Day.

Delhi police are said to have taken “irreproachable and infallible” security measures for Independence Day. Here’s what the police say they plan to do:
  • More than 10,000 police are said to be deployed around Red Fort and the roads leading to the site. The security wing and national security guards of the Delhi Police, along with 70-75 forces comprising 5,000 paramilitaries and police, will be deployed near the Red Fort in north Delhi.
  • Particular emphasis will be placed on the containment of sub-conventional aerial objects and real-time coordination with intelligence services and central agencies is maintained alongside interstate coordination.
  • Police officials said they are also carrying out a mass check for the presence of IEDs (improvised explosive devices), if any.
  • Staff are briefed on proper security, training and deployment.
  • The police have stepped up patrols and carried out anti-sabotage checks.
  • Hotels, bed and breakfasts, car parks and restaurants are checked, and a verification campaign of tenants and servants is underway.
  • Approximately 1,000 high specification cameras will be used to contain the aerial objects. These cameras, which will be installed by the Northern, Central and New Delhi Municipal Police units, will also help monitor the VVIP road leading to the Red Fort.
  • These Internet Protocol (IP) based cameras will be equipped with features such as face detection, people motion detection, trip wire, audio detection, intrusion, defocus and abandoned/missing objects. They will provide a Full HD 1080P live view of the locations. It will also share real-time data for the facial recognition server.
  • According to a report seen by ANI, out of the total requirements, 80% of 2-megapixel IP-based CCTV cameras and 20% of 4-megapixel IP-based CCTV cameras will be installed at each corner of the site. The police have been carrying out our verification campaigns over the past few months They also appealed “to the public that any suggestions and instructions coming from the police, whether regarding the verification of tenants, servants, verification of the hotel, any place that leads to any type of sabotage, either alert and inform the police about it,” police said.
  • On July 22, police issued an order prohibiting the flight of aerial objects such as paragliders, hand gliders and hot air balloons before Independence Day. The order will remain in effect in the nation’s capital until August 16.
  • People are urged “to follow the advisory issued to ensure that kites, balloons or any type of flying objects are not seen around the monument on August 15”. This step was taken keeping in mind the incident in 2017 when, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech, a kite landed just below the podium. The prime minister, however, continued his speech unimpressed, an official quoted by PTI said.
  • Facial Recognition Software (FRS) will be used on ‘vagrants’ or ‘persons with suspicious movements’ in several areas of the Northern Police District to monitor criminal activity and maintain a database on it, the report said. Hindustan Times.
  • The police are in contact with various agencies and act on all entries that come to them. They said an institutionalized mechanism was in place to keep an eye on the Rohingyas and the special branch was already working on it.
  • (With PTI, ANI entries)

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    Trump pleaded fifth more than 400 times during his New York deposition, answering only a question about his name, according to an NBC News report.

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    Trump Pleaded Fifth More Than 400 Times During His New York Deposition, Answering Only A Question About His Name, According To An Nbc News Report.

    A file photo of Donald Trump.Scott Olson/Getty Images

    • A source told NBC News that Trump pleaded the Fifth more than 440 times during his Wednesday deposition.

    • Trump’s attorney, Ron Fischetti, said Trump only answered one question about his name.

    • In 2018, Trump spoke out against pleading the Fifth, saying only “the mob” had done that.

    Former President Donald Trump, during his deposition in New York on Wednesday, ended up pleading the Fifth more than 440 times, according to NBC News.

    That was according to a source with knowledge of the deposition, who told NBC News how Trump had invoked his Fifth Amendment rights hundreds of times.

    Additionally, Trump’s attorney, Ron Fischetti, told NBC News that the only question Trump answered was when he was asked what his name was.

    A spokesperson for the New York Attorney General’s office confirmed to NBC News that Trump had invoked the Fifth, but did not say how many times he had done so.

    Trump declined to answer questions during a deposition Wednesday at the office of New York Attorney General Tish James. James is investigating whether Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, violated banking, insurance and tax laws and whether it engaged in financial fraud.

    The New York Times also spoke to Fischetti, who said the deposition, which lasted about four hours with breaks in between, involved Trump repeating “the same answer” over and over and reiterating his plea for the fifth amendment.

    “They asked a lot of questions about ratings and golf clubs and stuff,” Fischetti told The Times.

    Fischetti also told The Times that Trump should be dissuaded from answering questions from the New York attorney general’s office.

    “He absolutely wanted to testify, and it took very strong persuasion from me and others to convince him,” Fischetti said.

    Trump issued a lengthy statement slamming James on Wednesday.

    “I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you accepting the Fifth Amendment? ‘” he said in the statement.

    “Now I know the answer to that question,” he continued in the statement. “When your family, your business and everyone in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded and politically motivated witch hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors and the bogus news media, you have no choice. .”

    After the deposition, Trump posted a message on Truth Social, stating that he was leaving the attorney general’s office.

    “A very professional meeting. Having a fantastic company with great assets, very little debt and lots of CASH. Only in America!” Trump wrote.

    Trump has said in the past that only members of “the mob” would take the Fifth.

    “You see the mob taking the Fifth,” he said in April 2018. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

    Fischetti did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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