Five things you need to know today
Vulnerable transport networks, ‘treacherous’ roads and Biden given award
Walkers amid snow on the outskirts of Armoy, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, with more wintry weather expected. Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Transport networks across Europe, such as flights, trains and ferries, are becoming increasingly vulnerable to “devastating” cyberattacks, a high-level European Commission document has warned.
A paper prepared for the commission, the European Union’s executive arm, says cyberattacks, when timed with physical threats such as terrorist incidents, “can have a devastating impact, destabilising a country or challenging its political institutions”.
While it does not specifically mention any potential sources of such attacks, it was prepared against a backdrop of increasing concern that Russia could attempt to interfere in upcoming elections in France and Germany and controversy over alleged Russian hacking in the run-up to the US presidential election.
Gardaí have reported “treacherous” road conditions in many parts of the country on Friday morning due to snow and ice on roads.
Temperatures will remain low on Friday morning with highs of 4-5 degrees and wintry showers along western coastal counties.
AA Roadwatch has advised drivers to take “extreme care” in parts of Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Cavan, Meath and Kerry.
Sinn Féin has rebuffed efforts by the British and Irish governments to devise a compromise that would prevent the collapse of the Stormont institutions and avoid Assembly elections.
Despite an intervention by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and talks held at Stormont by Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan and Northern Secretary James Brokenshire, Sinn Féin remains insistent that Assembly elections must be held.
On Wednesday, Mr Kenny met Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in Dublin and spoke to DUP leader Arlene Foster and former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness by telephone to see if a way could be found out of the crisis.
4. Joe Biden awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
US vice-president Joe Biden has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by president Barack Obama.
Mr Biden cried as Mr Obama bestowed the honour, describing him as one of the finest vice-presidents in history.
He joked that Mr Biden’s legacy was, “as Joe once said, a big deal,” pausing between the last two words.
A Nazi war criminal, believed responsible for the deaths of 130,000 European Jews during the second World War, died in a dungeon cell near the presidential palace in Damascus in late 2001 at the age of 89, the French quarterly review XXI revealed in its winter issue this week.
Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the “Final Solution,” wrote in his memoirs that Alois Brunner “was my best man”. Brunner organised the deportation of 56,000 Jews from Vienna, 43,000 from Salonica, 14,000 from Slovakia and 23,500 from France to Auschwitz.
Brunner, who was originally from Austria, was twice convicted of war crimes in absentia in Paris, in 1954 and in March 2001. As XXI’s investigation makes clear, he was still alive when his second trial took place. His fate had remained a mystery.