While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 4 edition

Police salute New York mayor at slain officer's wake, after warning over 'act of disrespect'

New York City police guards saluted as Mayor Bill de Blasio entered a Brooklyn funeral home on Saturday with his police commissioner for the wake of the second of two patrol officers killed in an ambush last month.

Ahead of the wake for Wenjian Liu, believed to be the city's first Chinese-American officer killed in the line of duty, Commissioner Bill Bratton told his force to refrain from the "act of disrespect" seen at the funeral of Liu's partner, when some of those in uniform turned their backs on Mr de Blasio.

"A hero's funeral is about grieving, not grievance," Bratton wrote in a memo to be read on police roll calls over the weekend.

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Germany believes euro zone could cope with Greece exit: Report

The German government believes that the euro zone would now be able to cope with a Greece exit if that proved to be necessary, Der Spiegel news magazine reported on Saturday, citing unnamed government sources.

Both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble believe the euro zone has implemented enough reforms since the height of the regional crisis in 2012 to make a potential Greece exit manageable, Der Spiegel reported.

According to the report, the German government considers a Greece exit almost unavoidable if the leftwing Syriza opposition party led by Alexis Tsipras (above) wins an election set for Jan 25.

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Italy 'ghost ship' migrants paid up to $10,000 each to traffickers

Italian authorities disembarked 360 cold and hungry migrants Saturday from a ship left adrift by its crew off the country's coast, with some having paid up to US$8,000 (S$10,600) to traffickers for the perilous journey.

It was the latest in a wave of such incidents involving migrants crossing the Mediterranean to flee conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa and attempting to reach Europe by sea.

The migrants have been preyed upon by people smugglers, who have recently resorted to a new tactic of abandoning "ghost ships" full of desperate travellers off European coasts.

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Football: Steven Gerrard close to deal with LA Galaxy - ESPN report

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard is close to signing an 18-month contract with Major League Soccer's (MLS) Los Angeles Galaxy, ESPN reported on Saturday.

Earlier, captain Gerrard told Liverpool's TV channel that he would be moving to MLS at the end of the season but had yet to finalise a deal with a team.

ESPN's website cited a source who declined to be identified as saying that the club he had chosen was David Beckham's former team the Galaxy and that the deal was worth US$6 million (S$8 million) a year.

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Madonna lashes out on Facebook at criticism over Mandela, Luther King 'bondage' images

Pop diva Madonna has hit back at criticism of images posted on her Facebook page showing iconic figures such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King in bondage to mirror her latest album cover.

Photo-shopped portraits of King and Mandela were posted on Madonna's Facebook page on Friday to resemble artwork on the singer's upcoming album, Rebel Heart, which shows Madonna's face criss-crossed with black bands.

"Lower and lower on the scale of bad taste," one unimpressed commenter remarked.

But the queen of pop remained defiant.

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