While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 17 edition

Obama: Europe should better integrate Muslims

US President Barack Obama on Friday urged European governments to try to better assimilate their Muslim minority populations as they respond to extremist attacks like last week's shootings in Paris.

At a White House news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, his first foreign guest since last week's Charlie Hebdo massacre, Obama said the allies would stand by France.

But he also warned that the answer to the recent violence must not simply be a security crackdown.

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Five charged with terrorism after Belgium raids: Prosecutor

Belgian authorities charged five people with "participating in a terrorist group" following a series of raids to foil alleged imminent attacks against the police, the prosecutor's office said Friday.

Three people, including one who survived a deadly police raid in the eastern town of Verviers, were placed in custody and two others conditionally released, prosecutor spokesman Eric Van der Sijpt told AFP.

He declined to identify the accused.

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Italy brushes off reports it paid millions to Al-Qaeda to secure aid workers' release

Italy on Friday brushed aside reports it had paid off Al-Qaeda to secure the release of two Italian aid workers abducted in northern Syria last summer.

Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told parliament that claims that a US$12 million (S$16 million) ransom had been paid to free the two young women were "unfounded rumours" emanating from terrorist organisations which should not be given any credence.

But he stopped short of categorically denying any money had changed hands, and came under attack for what was interpreted as a deliberately ambiguous presentation of what had happened.

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Record-breaking 2014 was hottest in modern history: US

Record-breaking temperatures scorched the planet last year, making 2014 the hottest in more than a century and raising new concerns about global warming, US government scientists said Friday.

The much-anticipated report by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was confirmed by an independent analysis from US space agency Nasa that reached the same conclusion.

"Record warmth was spread around the world," said the NOAA report.

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Football: Ginola was paid to run for Fifa presidency

Former France international David Ginola's unlikely bid to "refresh football" by challenging Sepp Blatter for the Fifa presidency took an early twist on Friday when it emerged he was paid by a bookmaker to stand.

The 47-year-old revealed he was being paid £250,000 (S$500,000) by betting company Paddy Power to throw his hat into the ring.

Ginola defended the payment as a "salary" for a "proper job," telling Sky Sports News: "It's transparency. It's the job. Why not? I'm not a football player any more. It's a proper job."

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