Air France - Update
By now you have probably all heard that pieces of the debris have been found, that a religious ceremony was held today in Notre-Dame Cathedral (photo) in memory of the victims, and that Air France received a bomb threat a few days earlier targeting another flight, also from Rio to Paris, but the threat turned out to be false. Read about one theory of terrorism posited by a professor from the University of Indianapolis. The article (in English) is short, very readable, and provides much food for thought, since he lists several specific reasons why this could very well have been an act of terrorism.
If you do a Google on "Air France bomb threat", you'll have plenty to choose from.
However, articles in Le Figaro, understandably, remain extremely cautious, all the while leaving open the possibility of terrorism.
In an interview with François Grangier, a legal expert with the Cassation Court, three major topics are discussed. First, the signals from the plane announcing an electrical failure are important but not enough to give a diagnosis - was the electrical failure the cause or the consequence of the accident? Second, a plane can enter a storm, but it is not lightening that damages the plane. Rather the turbulence can break the wings of the plane. It is possible for lightening to break the plane's radio and radar antennae. The plane is then forced to enter into a storm without this equipment. Third, it is rare for an investigation into a crash to begin with so few facts. The black boxes, the wreckage, and all the flight recorders will have to be located. He adds that there are numerous possibilities, and it is too soon to know what really happened.
Le Figaro has a series of articles on the crash, and will no doubt be adding new ones.
The Washington Times has a standard version of the event, but I found this reader's comment worth passing on:
It is absolutely vital that we find out what happened to this airplane because it shares systems with most long-range jets in current service. Its GM engines and fly-by-wire are common components on both AIRbus and equivalent Boeing aircraft. If there is some unknown vulnerability to electrical storm damage in these components it must be found out. Notwithstanding French pre-eminence in deep-water exploration - I would not give much hope of finding flight recorders in 2 - 3 Km of water within the 30 days they will transmit.