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Obama agenda: Cyber czar, health care

"President Barack Obama will announce on Friday the creation of a 'cyber czar' position, stepping up his administration's efforts to better protect the nation's computer networks," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The cybersecurity chief will report to both the National Security Council and the National Economic Council, a compromise resulting from a fierce White House turf battle over the responsibilities and powers of the new office." More: "Mr. Obama won't announce on Friday the person who will fill the new job. That isn't expected for at least a few more days." 

It's now or never on health care, Obama said yesterday, per the AP. "President Barack Obama warned Thursday that if Congress doesn't deliver health care legislation by the end of the year the opportunity will be lost, a plea to political supporters to pressure lawmakers to act. 'If we don't get it done this year, we're not going to get it done,' Obama told supporters by phone as he flew home on Air Force One from a West Coast fundraising trip."  

The Boston Globe front-pages, "Obama tells Israel to halt expansion." The paper adds, "But hours before the two men met, the Israeli government flatly rejected the demand. Spokesman Mark Regev said that "normal life in those communities must be allowed to continue," including some construction. The exchange has set the stage for one of Obama's toughest foreign policy challenges. As he prepares to fly to the Middle East next week to give a speech on his policy toward the region and US-Muslim relations, it seemed clear yesterday that his administration is willing to risk prickly relations with one of the closest US allies -- and possible anger from some Jewish voters -- to try to create a Palestinian state."
The AP called it Obama "deepening his involvement in the quest for a difficult peace." Asking for concessions from both sides: "Obama pushed Palestinians for progress, too, including a direct call for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to reduce anti-Israeli sentiment in schools and mosques." The AP gets Abbas' reaction: "Abbas told The Associated Press after the session with Obama that no meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were on the horizon. Abbas said he is meeting his commitments under the road map and that Israel should do the same."

With the president today attending a hurricane preparedness meeting at FEMA, the group SmarterSafer.org is urging Obama to make mitigation the centerpiece of federal efforts managing hurricane and disaster preparedness. "For decades, federal policies have incentivized construction in hurricane-prone, environmentally sensitive areas," the group says in a press release. "It's time to update these policies to emphasize smart mitigation measures that protect the environment, put Americans to work and make current coastal residents safer."