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Local and state public health departments in the United States work to ensure that people have healthy water to drink, their restaurants don’t serve contaminated food and outbreaks of infectious diseases don’t spread. Those departments now find themselves at the forefront of fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

But years of budget and staffing cuts have left them unprepared to face the worst health crisis in a century.

KHN, also known as Kaiser Health News, and The Associated Press sought to understand the scale of the cuts and how the decades-long starvation of public health departments by federal, state and local governments has affected the system meant to protect the nation’s health.

Six takeaways from the KHN-AP investigation:

SPENDING DROP

Since 2010, spending for state public health departments has dropped by 16% per capita, and for local health departments by 18%. Local public health spending varies widely by county or town, even within the same state.

DISAPPEARING JOBS

At least 38,000 state and local public health jobs have disappeared since the 2008 recession, leaving a skeletal workforce in what was once viewed as one of the world’s top public health systems.

COMPARING POLICING MONEY

Nearly two-thirds of Americans live in counties that spend more than twice as much on policing as they spend on nonhospital health care, which includes public health.

STATES’ PER-PERSON SPENDING RANGE

More than three-quarters of Americans live in states that spend less than $100 per person annually on public health. Spending ranges from $32 in Louisiana to $263 in Delaware.

CHALLENGES FOR PUBLIC HEALTH WORKERS

Some public health workers earn so little that they qualify for government assistance. During the pandemic, many have found themselves disrespected, ignored or even vilified. At least 31 state and local public health leaders have announced their resignations, retired or been fired in 15 states since April.

MONEY SQUEEZE DURING THE PANDEMIC

States, cities and counties whose tax revenues have declined during the current recession have begun laying off and furloughing public health staffers. At least 15 states have cut health department budgets or positions, or were actively considering such cuts in June, even as coronavirus cases surged in several states.

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Contact AP’s global investigative team at Investigative@ap.org.

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This story is a collaboration between The Associated Press and KHN (Kaiser Health News), which is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

News Source: wtop.com

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REVEALED: Google is found promoting YouTube videos over competitors like Facebook who host the same content

Google Search has been promoting videos hosted by its own platform, YouTube, even when competitors' versions are more popular according to an investigation.

The Wall Street Journal reports that an investigation that used autonomous bots to search for content found YouTube systemically promotes its own videos over those hosted by competitors like Facebook.

In its tests, the Wall Street Journal says YouTube's videos were 'significantly more prominent' than those hosted by other platform in the 'vast majority of cases.'

YouTube videos often show up first in Google searches even when they're not as popular as videos hosted by competitors  

According to the Journal, searches for 28 videos hosted by the food blog, Tasty, which appeared on both Facebook and YouTube pulled u the YouTube version came up first all but one time- YouTube also occupied 61 percent of the slots in Google's video carousel. 

The report says that one nearly six-minute video about caramel desserts on Facebook which had 5.4 million views - 89 times the number of views of the YouTube version - still showed up first in Google's search results. 

That trend persisted even when videos on other platforms were technically more popular. 

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The test was also corroborated by sources within Google according to the Wall Street Journal.

According to the report, engineers there have purposely stacked Google Search to favor YouTube videos so that they show up first in results.

This, according to the Wall Street Journal, helps to ensure that Google drives traffic towards YouTube's content and gives them an advantage with its advertisers who are looking for the biggest user base. 

A Google spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal:

 

'Our systems use a number of signals from the web to understand what results people find most relevant and helpful for a given query.' 

The spokesperson, however, declined to comment on the specific examples turned up in the investigation. 

As noted by The Wall Street Journal, revelations about Google's preferential treatment may fuel frequent anti-trust complaints against the company which have bubbled up over the past two decades.

WHAT FINES HAS GOOGLE BEEN GIVEN IN EUROPE?

March, 20 2019 - Google fined £1.27bn for breaching EU competition laws

July, 18 2018 - EU antitrust regulators hand down a $5 billion (£3.8bn / €4.3bn) fine to Google after a three-year long investigation.

June 27, 2017 - EU fines Google $2.84 billion (£2.1bn / €2.42bn) for thwarting rivals of shopping comparison websites.

July 14, 2016 - EU sets out another charge against Google's shopping service. It also accuses the company of preventing third parties using its Adsense product from displaying search advertisements from Google's competitors - a third case against the company.

April 20, 2016 - EU sends a charge sheet to Google outlining the company's anti-competitive practices with regard to Android smartphone makers and apps makers.

April 15, 2015 - EU charges Google with blocking competitors of its shopping service.

Sept 2014 - Joaquin Almunia says he will not be able to wrap up the Google case before his mandate ends in October.

May 2014 - Joaquin Almunia, European Competition Commissioner at that time, says feedback from complainants will be crucial to determining whether he accepts Google's concessions.

Feb 5, 2014 - Google improves its concessions related to online search.

2013 - Lobbying group FairSearch files a complaint about Google's Android business practices to the European Commission.

April 25, 2013 - EU seeks feedback from rivals and users to Google's concessions.

April 3, 2013 - Google offers concessions related to online search and its AdSense advertising network to address EU competition concerns, without admitting wrongdoing.

Nov 30, 2010 - European Commission opens investigation into allegations that Google has abused its dominant position in online searches following 18 complaints.

Nov 3, 2009 - British price comparison site Foundem complains about Google's online search to the European Commission.

Read more:
  • Searching for Video? Google Pushes YouTube Over Rivals - WSJ

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