According to Reuters, the Interior ministry simulated a bomb attack at the Place d'Italie metro station as part of a series of exercises to test the preparedness of emergency services. The scenario called for the attack to be followed by a conflagration and a nearby mall was made into a mock triage center.
"France is not specifically targeted by any threat today, even if our country has been mentioned by several terrorist groups," said Interior minister de Villepin.
A silent march in solidarity with France's Jewish community and against intolerance took place in Herrlisheim, scene of the attack on a Jewish cemetery in which vandals descrated 127 headstones on April 30. The march proceeded despite rain. The march was called for by the Mayor, Jean-François Willem.
"You have to take part, it's that simple," a marcher told France 2 television.
In an interview, Secretary Powell told the AFP that relations with France have "changed remarkably" (perhaps because de Villepin has been relegated to the Interior ministry). Meanwhile, the paper that no one reads, the Washington Times, is printing hopeful speculations about French intentions for next month's D-Day commemorations. The batty WaTi quotes former French ambassador to Greece and the MFA's current director for UN and International Organizations" Jean-Maurice Ripert as saying Bush's visit "will be a tremendous occasion of showing that whatever the differences were, or still could exist on some issues, we are still allies and we are still working together."
The seat of the devil himself, French oil company Total SA, announced an 8% drop in first quarter profits over last year. What exactly can an oil company do to lose ground when oil is at $40 a barrel, the highest price in 13 years? Moreover, how can the company suffer only a 2% decline in revenue but an 8% decline in profit? The US dollar dropped like a stone. Global output has increased slightly. Total's exploration and production profits fell by 7% (to €2.82 billion) due to the low dollar while refining and marketing profits fell by 30% (to €546 million) because of the higher price of crude. Since January 1, Total has spent €880 million to repurchase 1% of outstanding shareholder equity. Of course, all that, which I don't really understand, has had serious effect on the company's bottom line.
However, none of that would have mattered if the Iraq war hadn't cost the company the right to exploit Iraqi oil-fields with a combined daily output of 1,340,000 barrels per day. (For the sake of comparison, note that the entire production capacity of Algeria is 735,100 barrels per day).