Horns Up, Horns Down for Dec. 3

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Horns Down: No funding, no research

On Monday, The Daily Texan reported that ongoing federal budget cuts are having a negative impact on University researchers in terms of grant cancellations, project delays and declining assistance from federal agencies. The federal government’s sequestration — a set of automatic budget cuts — has aggravated this effect. These cuts, particularly the research funding reductions that have come about as a result, are extremely concerning. A major part of our University’s high ranking comes from the fact that we are a top-tier research institution. As President William Powers, Jr. pointed out to Congress in November as chairman of the Association of American Universities, these budget cuts impede students’ ability to be a part of research that could change the world. UT is an institution whose core purpose is to transform lives for the benefit of society, but it’s difficult to do that without a steady stream of research funding.

Horns Up: Buses on toll roads could could improve system

In 2015, an 11-mile stretch of Austin’s MoPac Boulevard will expand from six lanes to eight, according to the Texas Tribune. The two new lanes will be tolled in such a way as to keep the traffic at a consistent speed of 50 mph, which will be done by adjusting the toll daily. Capital Metro vehicles, however, will be able to use the lanes free of charge. Capital Metro officials hope the change will make buses a more appealing option to the many drivers who find themselves stuck in relentless traffic. If the buses begin to boast quicker commute times, their appeal will increase. And if more people take the bus, the system’s services are more likely to improve — which is something we are certainly looking forward to.

Horns Down: Austin fails to protect personal data

A city audit published last month found that Austin does not do enough to protect the personal information of its employees and residents. The survey reports that more than half of the city’s departments do not have written policies for the collection, storage and disposal of personal information, including Social Security numbers, personal email addresses, driver’s license numbers and personal medical information of city employees and residents. Moreover, 45 percent of the city departments do not adequately train their employees in the proper protection of personal data. This serious lack of protection could “cause serious harm to individuals and the city,” according to the audit. “Citizens or employees could have their identities stolen, be blackmailed with sensitive personal information or face physical harm if medical information is altered.” The city of Austin should recognize how dangerous this issue is and immediately take steps to better protect our private data. Failure to do so could only lead to future chaos.