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Waratahs make second attempt at Folau injury recall

(Reuters) - The New South Wales Waratahs once again attempted to recall Israel Folau for Super Rugby duty, a week after the fullback was controversially pulled from the team at the 11th hour by the Australian Rugby Union.

The ARU had made the call on safety grounds the day before Saturday's defeat by the Western Force, fearing the 15-capped Wallaby had not fully recovered from a throat injury that had kept him out of two matches.

The Waratahs had been angered by the move and head coach Michael Cheika said the player had been checked by their own team doctor and specialist and that the ARU had broken protocols by conducting their own medical analysis without notifying them.

Folau said he had no contact with the ARU last week and that he had been left "confused" by the situation and unsure when he would be fit to return.

Cheika, however, believes Folau is ready and named the player to start in Saturday's home match against the Bulls of South Africa, hoping his prized asset can add to his 26 tries in 33 matches.

In a carefully worded team release, the Waratahs said the decision to pull Folau was "controversial" and that the former Australian Rules and Rugby League player had been in tip-top form in training.

"Cleared by the Waratahs medical staff to play against the Bulls, the try-scoring fullback hasn't missed a beat in the physical training sessions leading up to this weekend's game," the Waratahs said.

The Waratahs are third in the Australian Conference after securing four wins from their first seven games.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by John O'Brien)

Malaysia reports first Asian death from MERS virus

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysian man who went on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia has become the first death in Asia from Middle East respiratory syndrome, while the Philippines has isolated a health worker who tested positive for the deadly coronavirus.

Malaysia's health ministry said the Muslim man returned to Malaysia on March 29 and developed a high fever and cough and had difficulty breathing more than a week later. The man, a 54-year-old from southern Johor state neighboring Singapore, died Sunday in a hospital, it said Wednesday.

"Investigations showed that the cause of death is severe pneumonia secondary to MERS-CoV," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry urged all passengers travelling with the victim on Turkish Airlines on March 29 to report for health checks. It said it was also checking on people who have been in close contact with the man.

MERS belongs to a family of viruses that includes both the common cold and SARS, which killed some 800 people in a global outbreak in 2003. It can cause fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure. It was first identified in 2012 in the Middle East, where most cases since have been diagnosed.

In the Philippines, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the Filipino health worker had a positive blood test for the virus but showed no symptoms.

The man had personal contact with another Filipino hospital worker who died of the virus last week in the United Arab Emirates. Blood test results were released in the UAE after he arrived in the Philippines, and authorities immediately informed the Philippine Embassy.

The man has been isolated and people who had contact with him are being traced and quarantined, Ona said. Officials are also tracing the plane passengers who were seated near the Filipino during the flight to Manila.

The health department said it is sending an epidemiology expert and an infectious disease specialist to UAE after the death of the Filipino there and reports that six other Filipinos were found to have the virus.

Singapore's health ministry instructed hospitals to be vigilant in testing for the virus if patients reported serious respiratory illness and have traveled abroad. The ministry said the possibility of an imported case cannot be ruled out given global travel patterns.

The World Health Organization said it has been informed of 238 confirmed cases globally, including 92 deaths, since September 2012.

While MERS does not seem to spread as quickly between people as SARS did, it appears to be more deadly.

'No shame' over 12-year-old mother

A man claiming to be the father of Britain's youngest mother has said he is "proud" of her and there is "no shame" over what had happened.

The 12-year-old schoolgirl and her 13-year-old boyfriend are believed to have become Britain's youngest parents.

She became pregnant at the age of 11 and gave birth to a girl weighing 7lb 4oz on Sunday. Being 12 years and three months old makes her five months younger than the previous youngest mother, Tressa Middleton, who gave birth in Edinburgh in 2006, according to The Sun.

A source told the newspaper: "The baby's mum and dad have been in a relationship for more than a year, so this isn't a fleeting romance. They intend to stick together and bring their daughter up together.

"They're very into each other, totally in love. She's in Year 7, he's in Year 9 at a different school."

April Webster and Nathan Fishbourne, the previous youngest parents, were 14 when their son Jamie was born in Caerphilly, South Wales, in 2010.

The new mother was 10 when she met her boyfriend. The pair, from north London, cannot be named for legal reasons. The schoolgirl lives with her mother, who is 27, and is supportive of the couple.

Yesterday, the new mother went to a register office to register the birth with her own mother and another woman.

The man claiming to be the girl's father rang radio station LBC. Presenter Nick Ferrari said the station would have to take his word for it, and they would call him Greg, which was not his real name.

The caller agreed he was supportive and right behind the couple, saying: "U nfortunately we found out the situation a month ago. That's from people making statements about 'allowing it to go on'. We didn't allow anything to go on at all, we didn't know this was happening.

"Unfortunately, kids this age are going to grow up to have boyfriends and partners or whatever. If they do things behind their parents' back that's something we're never going to be able to find out.

"We only found that she was actually pregnant a month ago. For us, what can you do? She was eight months pregnant. The baby is going to come into the world no matter what."

He agreed it was "heartbreaking", adding: " But you can't turn back time, you can only go forwards."

He said he comes from a working background.

" It's not as if we're all scrounging off the social like other people are suggesting. I work, I own my own business, and I'm fully going to support them with my own money, not necessarily forking out of other people's pockets. We're not scroungers. I will sit there and support this baby as best I can, with my own money, that I earn from working."

Asked his view of the 13-year-old boy, he said: " He's a great kid. Fortunately, they've been very supportive as well. We've had a discussion with his parents and everybody's... We've obviously come to the conclusion when you've got no other conclusion is 'What's happened has happened'.

"All we can now do is look to go forward in bringing this baby into the world without this bickering everybody is doing."

Asked if he believed in shame, he said: " No. Shame's not nothing. That little girl does not bring shame to me at all, I'm so proud of her. Shame doesn't even come into it."

He said it was "absolute nonsense" that the youngsters want to marry.

"That was news to us. We only see that again last night, when we found out all this information was coming out."

Hilary Pannack, chief executive of teenage pregnancy charity Straight Talking, said: "I know girls who've been pregnant at 13 and have had the baby, and I've heard of 12-year-olds before.

"It costs £100,000 to the taxpayer to support the average teenage mother in the first five years - it is a reason but is not the primary reason to stop teenage pregnancy, which is that we are talking about young people's lives.

"We need to stop the cycle of teenage parents having children who are more likely to become teenage parents themselves."

Rugby-Waratahs make second attempt at Folau injury recall

April 16 (Reuters) - The New South Wales Waratahs once again attempted to recall Israel Folau for Super Rugby duty, a week after the fullback was controversially pulled from the team at the 11th hour by the Australian Rugby Union.

The ARU had made the call on safety grounds the day before Saturday's defeat by the Western Force, fearing the 15-capped Wallaby had not fully recovered from a throat injury that had kept him out of two matches.

The Waratahs had been angered by the move and head coach Michael Cheika said the player had been checked by their own team doctor and specialist and that the ARU had broken protocols by conducting their own medical analysis without notifying them.

Folau said he had no contact with the ARU last week and that he had been left "confused" by the situation and unsure when he would be fit to return.

Cheika, however, believes Folau is ready and named the player to start in Saturday's home match against the Bulls of South Africa, hoping his prized asset can add to his 26 tries in 33 matches.

In a carefully worded team release, the Waratahs said the decision to pull Folau was "controversial" and that the former Australian Rules and Rugby League player had been in tip-top form in training.

"Cleared by the Waratahs medical staff to play against the Bulls, the try-scoring fullback hasn't missed a beat in the physical training sessions leading up to this weekend's game," the Waratahs said.

The Waratahs are third in the Australian Conference after securing four wins from their first seven games. (Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by John O'Brien)

Teenager uses Facebook to save Romania's stray dogs

By Radu Marinas and Bogdan Cristel

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - When French film actress Brigitte Bardot began a campaign to spare the thousands of stray dogs in Romania's capital from being put down, she did it with a $150,000 (89,306.98 pounds) donation scheme.

A similar campaign is being waged by Ana-Maria Ciulcu, a 13-year-old schoolgirl with braces on her teeth who uses Facebook to appeal to dog lovers all over Europe - and to make sure the dogs go to the right homes.

"I like to know that my dogs will be spoiled, and will be allowed to sit on the sofa ... so one of my first questions would be: 'Are you going to chain him?'," Ciulcu told Reuters.

Ciulcu was a baby when Bardot started her sterilisation campaign in 2001. Now she speaks fluent German and has a grasp of the Internet, and she's used both to rescue 150 strays and ship them to Germany, Austria and Belgium since September.

But Bucharest's state-funded wards now hold 2,800 dogs, and 2,000 dogs have been euthanized in the past two months, according to Romania's Authority for Animal Surveillance and Protection. Foreign citizens, mainly German and British, have directly adopted about 30 dogs since September, ASPA Director Razvan Bancescu told Reuters.

Some 60,000 strays roam Bucharest. Last year, a four-year-old boy died after he was mauled by a stray beside a Bucharest park. Street protests demanded something be done about the dogs. The authorities began enforcing the euthanasia rules, which enable city halls to put down dogs caught in public spaces if they are not adopted within two weeks.

The strays are thought to be a legacy of the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's decision to bulldoze Bucharest's historic centre in the 1980s to make way for a gargantuan "House of the People". Thousands of guard dogs were abandoned by residents who had been forcibly relocated into small apartments.

SPURRED TO ACTION

Ciulcu collects strays on the street. They go to a temporary private shelter, or to the backyard of her home on the capital's outskirts. She has a veterinarian vaccinate them and give them microchip identification tags and eventually gets international passports for them.

All costs, from medicines, vaccines and neutering to identification chips and passports, are covered by Ana-Maria's family - about 150 euros ($210) per dog. Transporting the animals to their destinations is covered by the new owner.

She spends up to about two hours a day selecting owners from among thousands of would-be pet owners who visit her page (www.facebook.com/anamaria.ciulcu). Few Romanians are among them.

"Romanians generally want to adopt only a pure breed," she said.

Ciulcu, who wants to become a doctor, believes keeping animals together in state-funded shelters is not a solution, just an extermination plan. Until she takes up her medical studies, her ambition is to save as many dogs as she can.

"Dogs can't live packed together," she said. "They need affection."

(Editing by Michael Roddy and Larry King)

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