Car on fire crashes into airport

A car on fire has been driven at the main terminal building at Glasgow Airport, police have confirmed.

Eyewitnesses have described a Jeep Cherokee being driven at speed towards the building with flames coming out from underneath.

They have also described seeing two Asian men, one of whom was on fire, who had been in the car.

Strathclyde Police said two people had been arrested and detained in connection with the incident.

The airport has been evacuated and all flights suspended following the incident at 1515 BST.

A Whitehall spokesman said the incident was not being treated as a national security threat.

One eyewitness said: "I heard the sound of a car's wheels spinning and smoke coming out.

"I saw a Jeep Cherokee apparently as if it was trying to get right through the doors into the terminal building.

"There were flames coming out from underneath then some men appeared from in amongst the flames.

"The police ran over and the people started fighting with the police. I then heard what sounded like an explosion."

Eye-witness Richard Gray told BBC News 24: "A green Jeep was in the middle of the doorway burning.

"There was an Asian guy who was pulled out of the car by two police officers, who he was trying to fight off. They've got him on the ground.

"The car didn't actually explode. There were a few pops and bangs which presumably was the petrol."

Dr Rak Nandwani was at the airport building to pick up relatives when he saw a plume of black smoke.

He said: "The whole place has come to a standstill, the terminal building has been evacuated. I have spoken to my relatives and they have been moved to outside the building.

"They were told they could not pick their baggage up from the baggage collection area.

"There must be about 50 police cars at the airport. Me and my son, along with everyone else, have been moved to the car rental area."

Taxi driver Ian Crosby said: "This was no accident. This was a deliberate attack on Glasgow Airport."

The reaction of members of the public was not to help the men in the car, but to restrain them, he told the BBC.

Mr Crosby, who said he served in Northern Ireland, told how he shepherded people away from the scene in case of a secondary explosion or a nail-bomb.

Two men, one of whom was reported to be badly burned, were seen being led away in handcuffs.

Black voters have two favorites: Clinton and Obama

WASHINGTON — If Bill Clinton was the "first black president," his wife and Barack Obama are vying to be the second.

Obama, the only black running for the White House, came into a debate Thursday night at predominantly black Howard University with the crowd on his side, chanting his name as all eight Democratic candidates posed for pictures on stage. But Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared to win many of them over in an impassioned performance that addressed their anger over inequality.

"If HIV/AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country," Clinton said to the biggest applause line of the night, bringing the audience to its feet.

Loyalty and history

Black voters are a loyal base for Democrats, which was why all the presidential candidates were sure to take part in a debate focused entirely on issues facing the black community.

Polls show blacks are closely divided between Obama and Clinton, with other candidates gathering less support.

"Clinton and Obama are both pulling on the heart strings of black voters," Democratic consultant Jamal Simmons said. "Most black voters are very fond of the Clintons, and having Hillary Clinton running for president and bringing back that feeling after years of President Bush is pulling on black voters out of a sense of loyalty. But Obama is pulling on them out of a sense of history."

Blacks have favorable views of both Clinton and Obama by about 8-to-1 margins, and of 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards by about 3-to-1, according to a Gallup poll released Friday. The telephone survey of 802 blacks, conducted June 4 to 24, had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.

Clinton also is married to former President Bill Clinton, so wildly popular among black voters that novelist Toni Morrison dubbed him "the first black president" in a 1998 essay.

While the two previous debates focused largely on Iraq, there were no questions about the war this time. Some candidates injected Iraq into their answers, saying they would use the money spent on the war on domestic priorities and winning applause for the promise.

The debate's moderator, Tavis Smiley, steered the candidates to other issues that matter to black America. In turn, the candidates said those issues mattered to them.

"This issue of poverty in America is the cause of my life," Edwards said. Said Obama: "It starts from birth."

All the candidates decried the Supreme Court ruling earlier in the day that rejected school diversity plans in Seattle and Louisville, Ky., saying it turned back the promise of integrated schools that the court laid out 53 years ago in its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Obama offered himself as a powerful example of a beneficiary of Brown. "If it hadn't been for them, I would not be standing here today," the Illinois senator said.

Eyes on the Supreme Court

Sen. Joe Biden noted that he voted against confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion in Thursday's ruling.

All the Democratic candidates in the Senate opposed the confirmation of conservative Justice Samuel Alito, another of Bush's nominees.

Clinton, Biden and Obama voted against Roberts; Sen. Chris Dodd voted for his nomination; Mike Gravel left the Senate in 1981.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the first major Hispanic candidate, said the race is about more than passing new laws and appointing new justices. "The next president is going to have to lead," he said.

Black voters don't play a significant role in the primary race until after the leadoff contests in Iowa and New Hampshire are over, when Florida and South Carolina are scheduled to hold primaries on Jan. 29.

Blacks generally are more liberal than average voters — liberal longshot Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio was the other audience favorite — so the trick for candidates is to appeal to blacks without alienating the rest of the electorate.

Democratic consultant Jenny Backus said Obama's effort to speak to whites and blacks resulted in his best debate yet.

"Obama took his performance to a different level by showing the ability to have a conversation that was about race that wasn't just one way," Backus said. "He was talking to both whites and blacks in his answers."

Car bomb found in central London

A car bomb planted in central London would have caused "carnage" if it had exploded, police sources have said.

Officers carried out a controlled explosion on the car which was loaded with petrol, gas cylinders and nails at 0200 BST in Haymarket.

Police were alerted by an ambulance crew who spotted smoke coming from the silver Mercedes, which was parked near the Tiger Tiger nightclub.

"International elements" are believed to be involved, the BBC has been told.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command, said: "It is obvious that if the device had detonated there could have been significant injury or loss of life."

The area was cordoned off while police examined what they described as a "potentially viable explosive device".

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Britain faces "a serious and continuous threat".

He added the public "need to be alert" at all times.

The prime minister's comments were echoed by the new Home Secretary Jacqui Smith who has chaired a meeting of the government's emergency unit Cobra.

The BBC's Andy Tighe said the timing was significant coming a day after Gordon Brown became prime minister, and with the second anniversary of the 7 July bombings approaching.

A witness reported seeing gas canisters being removed from the car, a silver Mercedes, at around 0400 BST (0300 GMT).

Bouncers from a nearby nightclub said they saw the car being driven erratically before it crashed into a bin. They said the driver then got out and ran off.

Police sources have confirmed that gas canisters were involved in the incident, close to Piccadilly Circus.

The police source said the bomb was a "big device" and posed a real and substantial threat to the area around Haymarket, which is in London's theatreland.

Dozens of forensic officers examined the scene and the car was removed for further examination.

Scotland Yard said detectives from Counter Terrorism Command were investigating the potential bomb plot and will be checking the CCTV in the area.

Police are believed to have also carried out a search of other key areas in the capital shortly after the discovery of the car.

A spokesman said: "Police were called to reports of a suspicious vehicle parked in Haymarket, shortly before 2am this morning.

"As a precautionary measure the immediate area was cordoned off while the vehicle was examined by explosives officers.

"They discovered what appeared to be a potentially viable explosive device. This was made safe."

Police say Haymarket is likely to remain closed for some time and severe travel disruption is predicted.

Piccadilly Circus Tube station has reopened after being closed for some time.

The BBC's Daniela Relph, at the scene, said the heart of London was completely closed off and police officers were concentrating on keeping people away.

'No intelligence'

Professor Paul Wilkinson, a terrorism expert, said a passer-by had tipped off the police and officers would be concerned they did not have prior intelligence.

The current terrorism threat level has been classed as severe - meaning an attack is highly likely - since 14 August 2006.

Intelligence sources said they were keeping an open mind on who was responsible for the car bomb.

The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner said the incident had "come from nowhere" and that the driver of the car was now Britain's "most wanted".

He added that the police would be in charge of the investigation and that CCTV was the key to finding the "first clue" as to who was behind the attempted bombing.

John O'Connor, former commander of Scotland Yard's Flying Squad, told BBC News the incident bore all the "hallmarks" of a failed suicide bomb attempt. And it was "lucky" the police had received the tip-off .

White House firm on prosecutors

The US White House has rejected subpoenas for documents relating to the case of federal prosecutors sacked last year, citing executive privilege.

Congressional committees had asked for the papers to be submitted by Thursday.

This comes a day after the Senate demanded White House documents linked to its domestic spying programme.

Tensions with the White House have been building since Democrats took control of Congress in January and vowed to hold the administration to account.

Internal communications

Presidential counsel Fred Fielding said in a letter to the Senate and House of Representatives judiciary committees that he regretted no compromise had been found.

"We had hoped this matter could conclude with your committees receiving information in lieu of having to invoke executive privilege. Instead, we are at this conclusion," he wrote.

Mr Fielding said the administration had tried to co-operate with the investigation by releasing more than 8,500 pages of documents and sending some senior officials to testify.

But he said President George W Bush was not prepared to release documents revealing internal White House communications.

The row over the firing of eight federal US attorneys in 2006 has been building for several months.

Congress Democrats have been trying to force the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, accusing him of firing the prosecutors for political reasons and then lying about the reason for their dismissal.

Some Republicans have also backed the moves.

But the president has dismissed the attempts to remove Mr Gonzales as themselves political.

White House officials say this is only the second time Mr Bush has invoked executive privilege.

The first was in December 2001, when Congress sought documents from the Clinton administration.

Flood-hit Texas expects more rain

Residents in central Texas are braced for more storms, a day after exceptionally heavy rainfall caused flooding in several towns in the state.

Dozens of people had to be rescued from rooftops, cars and trees in the Marble Falls area 40 miles (65km) from the state capital Austin on Wednesday.

Some 18 inches (45cm) of rain fell and more downpours were predicted.

No deaths were reported in the latest in a series of storms blamed for at least 11 deaths in the past fortnight.

Mayor Raymond Whitman said there were 32 high-water rescues in the Marble Falls area on Wednesday.

He said: "If people do not pay attention and move to high ground, it is very possible that there will be fatalities."

The weather was so stormy on Wednesday that helicopter crews had to abandon four rescue attempts.

The Texas National Guard sent about 150 troops and 50 vehicles to help in central Texas.

Ethiopia 'ready for Eritrea war'

Ethiopia's prime minister says he is strengthening his army in preparation for an attack by long-time foe Eritrea.

"Our defence forces have the capacity to deter aggression and to repulse it if it occurred," Meles Zenawi told MPs.

Eritrea has yet to comment. The two neighbours fought a border war from 1998-2000, in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed.

They back rival sides in Somalia and there had been fears that they could clash there through local proxies.

United Nations peacekeepers are monitoring a buffer zone along the border but Ethiopia has long accused Eritrean troops of infiltrating the zone.

Under the deal to end their war, an independent boundary commission ruled on where the countries' border should lie in 2002.

It awarded the town of Badme to Eritrea but Ethiopia has not handed it over.

Mr Meles told parliament that he did not agree with the border ruling but said he accepted it.

"We believe the ruling was wrong, we still believe it is wrong, but we accept the ruling even though it is wrong."

Eritrea wants the international community to put more pressure on Ethiopia to comply with the ruling but has not commented on Mr Meles' statement.

In November 2006, the commission gave the rivals a year to physically demarcate their border or risk having it set for them.

Hamas criticises Blair envoy move

The Palestinian Hamas movement has criticised the appointment of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as an international Middle East peace envoy.

The Islamist militants, now in control of Gaza, said Mr Blair had not been honest or helpful while prime minister.

But the move has been welcomed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Mr Blair's mandate includes mobilising international assistance to the Palestinians and helping to develop their institutions and economy.

Mr Blair, whose appointment was announced hours after he formally resigned as prime minister, said a solution to the Middle East's problems was possible but required "huge intensity and work".

During his final prime minister's questions in parliament on Wednesday, Mr Blair told lawmakers that his "absolute priority" would be to bring about a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

'Aggressive facilitator'

But Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad said Mr Blair had not created a good impression with the group.

"According to our experience at the time he was the prime minister of Britain... he was not honest and was not helpful in solving the conflict in the Middle East," Mr Hamad said.

He added that Mr Blair had constantly adopted "the American and the Israeli position".

But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the newly-appointed envoy had given him "the assurance that he will work to arrive at a peaceful solution on the basis of two states".

Israel, too, welcomed Mr Blair's pledge to focus on the conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "believes that Mr Blair can have a favourable impact", Mr Olmert's spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, said.

The White House also hailed Mr Blair's appointment, but played down expectations.

"He's not superman, doesn't have a cape," said White House spokesman Tony Snow.

"He's not designed to be doing that. What he is designed to do is to work as an aggressive facilitator between the Quartet and interested parties to try to look for ways to make progress where in the past we have not seen the kind of progress we'd like."

Issue of trust

Mr Blair's appointment was delayed because of Russian reservations.

Observers point out that Mr Blair's mission, as defined by the "Quartet" of international mediators which appointed him - Russia, the US, EU and UN - is narrow.

His brief includes Palestinian governance, economics and security, rather than the wider conflict between Israel and Palestinians - at least initially.

Mr Blair replaces the Quartet's previous envoy, former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who resigned last year in frustration at the lack of progress.

BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen says Mr Blair will have a tough task ahead of him.

Israelis like Mr Blair because they believe he is on their side and Palestinians in the main do not trust him for the same reason, our correspondent adds.

Nato condemns Putin missile vow

Russia's threat to aim weapons at Europe if the US sets up a missile defence shield there was "unhelpful and unwelcome", Nato has said.

The US says it wants missile defence in eastern Europe to counter threats from states like Iran and North Korea.

On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Iran was not a threat to the US, hinting that Russia was the target.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he will have "frank" talks with Mr Putin this week about the threat.

'Stormy summit'

Washington wants to deploy interceptor rockets in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic to counter what it describes as a potential threat from "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea.

It insists the shield is not aimed at Russia.

"As far as I am aware, the only country speculating about targeting Europe with missiles is the Russian Federation," Nato spokesman James Appathurai said.

"These kind of comments are unhelpful and unwelcome."

The new French president will hold his first talks with Mr Putin at this week's G8 summit in the German resort of Heiligendamm.

"I will listen attentively to him. He called for a frank dialogue. From my side, it will be frank," Mr Sarkozy said.

US President George W Bush is also due to meet Mr Putin at the three-day summit, which starts on Wednesday.

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow says that if Mr Putin's words are anything to go by, the summit is likely to be stormy.

'Joke of the year'

Mr Putin issued his warning in an interview with foreign reporters ahead of the G8 meeting.

"If the American nuclear potential grows in European territory, we will have to have new targets in Europe," Mr Putin said.

He said neither Iran nor North Korea had the weapons that the US was seeking to shoot down.

"We are being told the anti-missile defence system is targeted against something that does not exist. Doesn't it seem funny to you?" he asked.

Top Iranian security official Ali Larijani described the planned deployment as the "joke of the year", adding that Iran's missiles were not capable of reaching Europe.

Mr Putin said Washington had "altered the strategic balance" by unilaterally pulling out of the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty in 2002.

He hoped US officials would change their minds about the missile plan, and said that if an arms race resulted it would not be Russia's fault.

Last week, Moscow announced it had tested a ballistic missile to maintain "strategic balance" in the world.