A Midland teenager has described the "pure torture" of the five days he spent in hurricane ravaged New Orleans.

Stuart Bird, aged 18, described how he dodged rubber bullets, was threatened with being shot and saw an apparently dead woman being dragged along the floor at the Louisiana Superdome.

Now reunited with his parents at their home in Rugby, Stuart said the poverty and the way people were being treated in New Orleans was "disgraceful" and added he and his friends could not believe they were in the world's richest country.


A Midland sex health clinic has warned teenagers against US-style virginity pledges - claiming they are more likely to catch sexually transmitted diseases.

The Brook clinic in Birmingham said youngsters who took a vow of chastity risked being ignorant about sexual relationships.

Chief executive Penny Barber claimed experience in the US showed such youngsters still engaged in sexual activities that did not lead to losing their virginity.

As a result they were less likely to use contraceptives which, coupled with their lack of knowledge, meant they had above average rates of sexually transmitted infections.

"Abstinence education programmes tend to be 'absent education', with doctrine replacing facts," said Ms Barber.


The victims of "evil" conman Robert Hendy-Freegard are celebrating after the bogus MI5 spy was jailed for life for an extraordinary #1 million "odyssey of deceit".

The 34-year-old ex-car salesman, nicknamed "The Puppetmaster", callously commandeered the lives of a string of unsuspecting men and women during a decade-long charade, unprecedented in its audacity and scope.

With a cocktail of "devious charm" and James Bond-type tales of shadowy IRA killers, he turned most of his victims into virtual slaves, conning them out of hundreds of thousands of pounds to fund a lavish millionaire lifestyle.

By contrast they suffered abject poverty, were forced to carry out bizarre "missions", and were left trembling in terror from his explosive temper and claims that assassins were stalking their every move.


First there was Fit Club where tubby celebrities were browbeaten into losing weight, and now an animal charity has set up its own version - pet fit camp.

Seven porky pets have been chosen to be "inch-loss idols", winning places at the PDSA's fat-busting camp.

Chubby canines Hamish, Buster, Hoopy, Bella, Oakley and Sammy and fat cat Georgie have been chosen by Fame Academy fitness guru Kevin Adams and PDSA vet Elaine Pendlebury as the perfect contenders to fight the battle of the bulge.


A Muslim man arrested in the Channel Tunnel had traces of three explosives on a pair of socks in his luggage , the Old Bailey heard.

The socks had been rolled into a ball and attached to a cord - making them ideal for cleaning a mortar bomb, it was alleged.

Andrew Rowe, 34, had also written a secret code in which words such as target, police and weapons were substituted for mobile phone models, said Mark Ellison, prosecuting.

Mr Ellison said the code "made it possible to communicate in an innocent message which only spoke about mobile telephones".

It was found in the Ash Road, Birmingham, address where his estranged wife and children were living, said Mr Ellison.

See Wednesday's Birmingham Post for more on these stories