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Obama outlines plans to boost cybersecurity, high-tech jobs in State of the Union address

As part of his State of the Union speech yesterday, President Obama called on Congress to address the "growing threat from cyber attacks."

Obama got a head start yesterday morning by signing an executive order that he said will strengthen the country's cyberdefence by increasing information sharing and developing standards to protect security and privacy.

We know that hackers target identities and emails, Obama said, but they are now going after the power grid, financial institutions, air traffic control, and other emergency networks. "We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats," Obama said.

"But now, Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks," Obama continued. "This is something we should be able to get done on a bi-partisan basis."

Today, two members of the House plan to re-introduce the CISPA information-sharing bill, but it has not secured the support of the White House. A bill backed by the administration was introduced in the Senate last year, but did not make any major headway.

Obama also announced the launch of new high-tech manufacturing hubs throughout the country and asked Congress to fund even more.

Obama said three more manufacturing hubs will launch in the US, with businesses partnering with the Defense and Energy Departments "to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs."

Obama also called on Congress to fund 15 more hubs, something he first proposed last year.

Obama pointed to a public-private institute for manufacturing innovation in Youngstown, Ohio, which launched in August. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the-art lab with a focus on 3D printing, Obama said tonight. "There's no reason this can't happen in other towns," Obama said.

The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) there received $30 million (£19 million) in federal funding and $40 million (£25.5 million) from the winning consortium, which includes manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges, and non-profit organisations from the Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia "Tech Belt."

Obama, however, said his "first priority" is to make America a "magnet for new jobs and manufacturing." He pointed to firms that have pledged to bring jobs back to the US, including Ford and Apple. In December, Apple's Tim Cook - who was in the audience at the State of the Union - announced that some parts of Mac production will move to the US starting this year.

"Now is not the time to gut ... job-creating investments in science and innovation," Obama continued. "Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the start of the space race. We need to make those investments."

Speaking of space, another guest at the SOTU tonight was NASA's Bobak Ferdowsi, perhaps best known from his role on the Mars Curiosity rover team. Obama's speech, however, did not focus too heavily on space-related items.

He did push for a redesign of high schools so they are "better equipped for the demands of a high-tech economy." The administration, he said, will reward high schools that partner with colleges and employers and create classes that focus on science, math, engineering, and technology.

Earlier in the day, meanwhile, members of Anonymous vowed to disrupt the speech by "blockading" Internet coverage of the speech. Organisers of "Operation SOTU" attempted to rally supporters to help block webcasts and other online coverage of the address by citing the recent suicide of Internet activist Aaron Swartz and alleged threats to the principles of online freedom he espoused.