French plane lost in ocean storm

A relative of a passenger aboard the plane speaks into a mobile phone at Rio airport, 1 June

Relatives have been gathering at the two airports involved

An Air France plane carrying 228 people from Brazil to France has vanished over the Atlantic after a possible lightning strike, airline officials say.

The Airbus sent an automatic message at 0214 GMT, four hours after leaving Rio de Janeiro, reporting a short circuit as it flew through strong turbulence.

It was well over the ocean when it was lost, making Brazilian and French search planes’ task more difficult.

Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris has set up a crisis centre.



Obama’s first speech as President

Barack Obama has made his first speech as president.

Millions of people gathered in Washington to see the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States and first ever African-American leader.

In his inaugural address President Obama said what was needed now was, “a new era of responsibility” in which every American had duties to themselves, their nation, and the world.




Israel declares ceasefire in Gaza

Israel declares ceasefire in Gaza

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announces the ceasefire

Israel is to halt its three-week military offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said.

He said Israel had achieved its aims and the unilateral ceasefire would start at 0200 (2400 GMT). But he said troops would remain in Gaza for now.

A Hamas spokesman said it would not accept one Israeli soldier in Gaza.

Nearly 1,200 Palestinians have been killed since the violence began on 27 December. Thirteen Israelis have died.

The US has welcomed the ceasefire, saying it “expects that all parties will cease attacks and hostile actions immediately”.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed relief, saying the ceasefire should be “the first step leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza”.

‘Goals achieved’

The Israeli prime minister’s announcement came in a televised address following a late-night cabinet meeting.

We feel the pain of every Palestinian child and family member who fell victim to the cruel reality created by Hamas
Ehud Olmert
Israeli prime minister

Excerpts: Olmert declares ceasefire
Israel’s “goals have been achieved, and even more”, Mr Olmert said.

Hamas was badly damaged both militarily and in terms of government infrastructure; rocket factories and dozens of smuggling tunnels had been destroyed, he said.

But the success of the ceasefire depended on Hamas, he said.

Troops would remain in Gaza for the time being and if Hamas held fire, the military would “consider pulling out of Gaza at a time that befits us”.

If militant rocket fire into Israel continued, Israel would respond with force, the Israeli leader added.

A Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhum, condemned the move. Hamas could not “accept the presence of a single [Israeli] soldier in Gaza”, he said.



Silicon Valley looks towards 2009

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

An investor looks at a share prices board in Tokyo on 18 September, 2008
Avoiding the fallout from the global credit crisis has been nearly impossible

The world of technology is set to face a challenging year in 2009 but many in the industry say it will weather the storm better than the rest of the US. Here Maggie Shiels presents the first of a two-part assessment of how technology will fare over the next 12 months.

Despite the continuing fall out from the global credit crisis, there is a mood of optimism around Silicon Valley, which is perhaps not that unusual given its “can do” reputation.