Six dead as cargo train derails, hits house in China

Six dead as cargo train derails, hits house in China

For representational purposes

BEIJING: Rescuers have recovered the bodies of six people in central China after a cargo train carrying aluminium ore hurtled off the tracks and crushed a house, local authorities said on Friday.

At around 10:00 pm on Wednesday the 25-car train derailed from an escape siding and overturned, hitting a house in Gongyi, Henan province.

Search and rescue operations concluded early Friday morning after the bodies of four crew members and two villagers were found.

Rescue efforts were difficult as the crew accommodation car and the first 14 wagons overturned and lay on top of each other, and were heaped together with a large quantity of aluminium ore, the Gongyi government said.

The train is owned by Chalco, China’s largest state-owned aluminium producer. Each car held 60 tonnes of aluminium ore, authorities said.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the accident.

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Lawmaker From Merkel’s Party Calls for German Intervention in Libya

Lawmaker From Merkel’s Party Calls for German Intervention in Libya

The war-torn African country, devastated by a 2011 revolution and turned into smugglers’ heaven, has been split between two governments. The situation escalated last week when the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, ordered an offensive to retake Tripoli from the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

The vice chair of the CDU group in the German Parliament, Johann Wadephul, has called to launch a mission by the country’s armed forces in Libya. The lawmaker has told AFP that Germany and Europe are interested in ending the conflict in the North African country, where a “smuggling system” has developed, bringing in illegal immigrants to Europe. According to him, German military intervention in the conflict is currently hypothetical, but if no political solution is found, the world community must “show the willingness to act more clearly” with the support of Germany.

“I believe that the SPD is also interested in ending this humanitarian catastrophe”, he noted, hoping that the CDU/CSU coalition partners would support the move.

Wadephul expressed optimism that even the Social Democrats would support a mission, requiring a “robust mandate” for the Bundeswehr, meaning that soldiers should not use their weapons only for self-defence. The CDU politician stressed that Berlin must prove its commitment to taking on more international responsibility with actions rather than statements.

At the same time, member of the party Alternative for Germany Armin-Paulus Hampel warned against the military operation in an interview with Sputnik.

“All interventions in recent years in the Middle East have failed and have led to chaos in the region. So-called ‘failed states’, weak governments are the result with extremely high numbers of victims”, Hampel noted, also recalling the mistakes in Afghanistan.

According to him, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar is exploiting the unstable situation in the country.

“The states are divided over Libya. There is a weak government in Tripoli. I suspect that in the past few months he has done what was once attributed to Gaddafi: he has negotiated with important tribes in Libya and seems to have gained their support, which the state government in Tripoli no longer has”, the AfD politician suggested.

The security and political situation in Libya has been unstable ever since the 2011 revolution and the overthrow of the country’s long-time ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi. The country has been divided between two authorities: the eastern part of the country is controlled by the parliament elected in 2014 and backed by the Libyan National Army (LNA) that is headed by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, while the UN-backed Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) governs Libya’s western parts.

Last week, Haftar ordered an offensive to retake Tripoli from the GNA-backed forces. The LNA has already recaptured a number of settlements on its way to the capital, including the Tripoli International Airport, located around 20 miles away from the capital. The forces loyal to the GNA announced a counteroffensive on Sunday, dubbed Volcano of Rage, to repel the National Army.

Canada’s Trudeau isn’t talking about it, but legal pot is going well

Canada's Trudeau isn't talking about it, but legal pot is going well

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Long lines formed on a sub-zero morning last week to buy marijuana over the counter from three different shops in Ottawa, the first capital in the industrialized world to open them.

FILE PHOTO: Cannabis products on display at the Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. retail cannabis store after marijuana retail sales commenced in the province of Ontario, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Moe Doiron/File Photo

Though the day highlighted the realization of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to legalize cannabis during his 2015 campaign, neither he nor anyone else from the ruling Liberal party was out taking credit for it – a sign that the social stigma around marijuana is still strong.

“Canadians are accepting of legalization, but I don’t think they’re celebratory,” said Peter Donolo, a political strategist at Hill + Knowlton and communications director for former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Aside from difficulty keeping up with demand, legalization has gone smoothly. Online pot sales to adults began nationally on Oct. 17, but storefronts only opened in the province of Ontario, which includes the capital, on April 1.

Six months before a national election, polls show Liberals deadlocked or trailing the rival Conservative Party, and Trudeau is being cautious about weed.

Though Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has said he would not reverse legalization if elected, he has repeatedly expressed worries about safety – especially around people driving while high – and has said more young people might try marijuana now.

There are also some communities like the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, where 55 percent of the population list their ethnic origin as Chinese, which have prohibited cannabis storefronts.

“Legalization has gone well,” a government official said, but the issue is not a “primary focus”.

It is now safer to be a consumer because of regulation, the official said, adding that black market sales are falling and legal jobs and revenue are being created.

Interviews with customers and retailers at the Ottawa stores revealed that even if Trudeau is not talking about it, legalization has generated good will.

“I live close by and I’m excited to see how this store will change the neighborhood,” said Jessica, 23, who declined to give her last name. “I did not vote Liberal last time, but I might this time.”

Jessica was huddled close to an outdoor heater in front of the Fire & Flower store, which is just a 10-minute walk from both the prime minister’s office and parliament.

“We have a deep appreciation for the opportunity we’ve been granted,” said Michael Patterson, one of the shop’s two license holders.

Vivian Azer, a financial analysts who follows cannabis companies for Cowen and Company in New York, sees a bright future for Canada’s nascent marijuana industry.

She forecast cannabis retail sales reaching C$3.6 billion ($2.7 billion) in 2019, including taxes. Azer sees illicit sales declining to 11 percent of the total sales by 2025 from 90 percent last year.

By 2025, Canadian recreational weed revenue will total C$10 billion ($7.5 billion), with medical marijuana at C$2 billion ($1.5 billion), Azer estimates.

FILE PHOTO: Employees at the Fire and Flower store prepare an order for a customer as the first legal cannabis stores open in the province of Ontario, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

“The stigma is rolling away,” Azer said.

Cheralynn, 55, said the promise to legalize marijuana was one of the main reasons she voted for Trudeau in 2015.

“And I like Justin,” she said. “Most women do. He’s kinda cute.”

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Bill Berkrot

US natural history museum gala to honor Brazil’s far-right president sparks outrage

US natural history museum gala to honor Brazil's far-right president sparks outrage

Bolsonaro is set to be honoured at the annual Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce black-tie gala to take place at the Museum of Natural History on 14 May. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

The American Museum of Natural History has said it is “deeply concerned” after it was sharply criticized for hosting an event that will honour Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil who has backed aggressive cuts in environmental protections.

Bolsonaro backers wage war on the rainforest

Bolsonaro is set to be honoured at the annual Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce black-tie gala, scheduled to take place at the Museum of Natural History in New York on 14 May.

The decision has caused outrage among activists dismayed at Bolsonaro’s rolling back of protections for the Amazon rainforest to usher in mining and logging companies despite protests from native groups. The rightwing president has also been condemned for views seen as misogynist and racist, as well as his praise for Brazil’s former military dictatorship.

“The fact that American Museum of Natural History would accept an event for something so counter to their own values, they should be ashamed themselves,” Priscila Neri, a Brazilian activist with the human rights group Witness, told Gothamist.

“In a moment when there’s been a rise of authoritarianism around the world, they’re giving a positive nod to a man who is rolling back human rights protections and scientific knowledge.”

Several museum employees and members have also attacked the institution for hosting Bolsonaro. In response, the museum said it was concerned and was reviewing the situation.

In a statement on Friday, the museum said: “The external, private event at which the current President of Brazil is to be honored, was booked at the Museum before the honoree was secured. We are deeply concerned, and the event does not in any way reflect the Museum’s position that there is an urgent need to conserve the Amazon Rainforest, which has such profound implications for biological diversity, indigenous communities, climate change, and the future health of our planet. We are exploring our options.”

The controversy is just the latest political storm to hit the museum. Last year, more than 200 scientists and academics urged the museum to cut its ties to board member Rebekah Mercer, a prominent donor to Donald Trump who has funded groups that deny the science of climate change.

A dinosaur wing of the museum is named after David Koch, a billionaire who has also attempted to undermine climate science and scupper regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Hammond plays down Brexit delay increasing chance of second vote

Hammond plays down Brexit delay increasing chance of second vote

A People’s Vote rally calling for another referendum on Brexit. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Philip Hammond has played down the possibility that the UK could use the delay to Brexit to hold a second referendum and stressed that he still expects Britain to leave the European Union.

Speaking in Washington, the chancellor said time would be too tight to hold a confirmatory vote before the new deadline of the end of October unless it was triggered over the coming weeks.

Hammond said the damage caused by continued uncertainty – including problems attracting suitable candidates to replace Mark Carney as the governor of the Bank of England – meant it was vital that the Brexit issue was resolved as quickly as possible.

The chancellor was speaking as cross-party talks continued in Westminster. May’s de facto deputy, David Lidington, and the environment secretary, Michael Gove, met Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, for talks both sides described as “productive”.

“Talks are going on, constructive, so we are hopeful and positive. We are working out a timetable, there is a fair amount of detailed work that will go on for the next week or 10 days and then we will see where we are at,” McDonnell told reporters afterwards, adding, “we’ll see by the end of next week how far we’ve got”.

Asked whether he had raised the prospect of a referendum on Brexit, he said: “It’s always on the table of course, we raise that at each meeting.”

Some Labour MPs, including Clive Lewis, who is a member of McDonnell’s shadow Treasury team, are adamant the party should not sign up to any deal without a confirmatory vote attached.

“Any Brexit deal passed through parliament must be ratified by a public vote – this has to be the bottom line of negotiations, no ifs no buts,” Lewis wrote in his local paper, the Eastern Daily Press, on Friday.

Hammond warned continued Brexit deadlock would put at risk his plan to announce the results of a long-term spending review in the autumn budget – previously billed as the “end of austerity”.

There’s an upside to our Brexit humiliation – a second referendum is more likely | Alastair Campbell

“If we get a deal through parliament in the next few weeks I expect to conduct a full three-year spending review of resource spending and a longer review of capital spending,” he said. “If we don’t get a deal done, it probably makes it inappropriate to do a long-term spending review.”

The chancellor warned that Brexit had damaged Britain’s reputation as a place to do business. Asked about the possibility of a second referendum, he said: “It’s a proposition that could and, on all the evidence, is very likely to be put to parliament at some stage.”

But the chancellor said the government was opposed to a confirmatory referendum and would not support one.

Noting that it would take six months to organise a referendum, he added: “It is unlikely, at a technical level, whether there would be enough time.

“I know some papers have been saying that the EU gave us an October extension so there would be time for a confirmatory referendum but if that had been the motive they would have given us longer. It looks tight to me.

“If in a couple of months time you were putting a bill through parliament you would be struggling to do it – even if you wanted to – in the time available.”

Hammond said the council’s decision to grant the UK an extension to late October had not made it more or less likely that a confirmatory referendum would be held, because the issue would be decided by parliamentary arithmetic.

“It depends on where the Labour party ends up. The Labour party is deeply split and will have to make up its mind where it stands.”

A spokesman for the People’s Vote campaign insisted a poll could be held in as little as three months, if agreement could be reached in parliament. “It’s a question of political will,” he said.

How criticising Mark Carney became the new Tory sport

The chancellor said the process of finding a replacement for Carney – who will leave the Bank of England next January – is under way. He said that he regretted the Brexit issue had not been first resolved.

“It is blindingly obvious that there may be some candidates who might be deterred because of the political debate around Brexit.”

Carney has come in for criticism from some Conservative MPs over the Bank’s Brexit forecasts and his warnings of the dangers of a no-deal outcome. Hammond said it was unavoidable that the governor of the Bank of England would get involved in the Brexit controversy. “Some candidates might not want to be exposed to the political debate.”

Asked whether Brexit had damaged Britain’s international reputation a place to do business, Hammond said: “It has damaged it, no question. Investment has been delayed and some has been diverted.”

The chancellor said a speedy resolution to Brexit would unleash pent-up investment. Companies were sitting on a £750bn cash pile and had delayed buying new equipment because of the uncertainty. “Once the coast is clear and the uncertainties around access to markets is resolved I expect a very substantial increase in business investment.”

US tourist lands in hotel with 14 pets, call cops when told to vacate

US tourist lands in hotel with 14 pets, call cops when told to vacate

According to the police, the women arrived at the hotel with six cats, seven dogs and a goat on the night of April 9.(ANI photo)

An American tourist staying in a hotel here with 14 pets, including a goat, had called the police after the hotel management asked her to leave, said an official Friday.

The incident took place on April 10 when the woman tourist from the United States called the police following an altercation with the hotel manager.

According to the police, the women arrived at the hotel with six cats, seven dogs and a goat on the night of April 9.

“Upon reaching the hotel, situated in Shah-e-Alam area, we learnt that the hotel owner was upset after knowing that the US citizen had landed with 14 of her pets.

“When the hotel owner asked her to leave, she called us. Since no complaint was filed, we could not do much except pacifying both the parties,” said S S Modi, inspector of the Kagadapith police station here.

According to hotel manager Ramesh Panchal, the woman, who is in her 50s, left Friday afternoon.

“On April 9, two persons came to our hotel and booked a room for a US citizen. At that time, we were not told that she would come with so many animals.

“On the night of April 9, when only a watchman was present, she came with 14 of her pets, which were kept in the passage of the hotel,” said Panchal.

“The next day morning, we along with other guests were shocked to see so many animals in the hotel. When we asked her to leave, she got very angry and called the police. Then, we did not say anything to her,” he said.

The hotel management heaved a sigh of relief when she vacated the premises.

“Luckily, she left on Friday afternoon with all her pets. She told us that she was going to Kerala,” said Panchal.

Steve Bannon ‘told Italy’s populist leader: Pope Francis is the enemy’

Steve Bannon ‘told Italy’s populist leader: Pope Francis is the enemy’

Steve Bannon in Piazza Navona in Rome in 2018. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon advised Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini to attack the pope over the issue of migration, according to sources close to the Italian far right.

During a meeting in Washington in April 2016, Bannon – who would within a few months take up his role as head of Trump’s presidential campaign – suggested the leader of Italy’s anti-immigration League party should start openly targeting Pope Francis, who has made the plight of refugees a cornerstone of his papacy.

“Bannon advised Salvini himself that the actual pope is a sort of enemy. He suggested for sure to attack, frontally,” said a senior League insider with knowledge of the meeting in an interview with the website SourceMaterial.

After the meeting, Salvini became more outspoken against the pope, claiming that conservatives in the Vatican were on his side. One tweet from Salvini’s account, in May 2016, said: “The pope says migrants are not a danger. Whatever!” On 6 May 2016, Salvini, after the pope’s plea for compassion towards migrants, stated: “Uncontrolled immigration, an organised and financed invasion, brings chaos and problems, not peace.”

Matteo Salvini, right, with the controversial T-shirt. Photograph: @matteosalvinimi

The claims coincide with suggestions that Bannon’s pan-European populist project, the Movement, has stalled. Meanwhile, Salvini has announced that he wants to bring the far right from across Europe into an alliance. Last Monday in Milan, he unveiled his “vision of Europe for the next 50 years”, billing it as the launch of a new rightwing coalition for the European parliamentary elections on 23 May. Salvini unveiled his alliance only days after meeting Bannon in Rome in March. This led some to believe that Bannon has handpicked Salvini as the informal leader of Eurosceptic, populist forces in Europe.

The pair also met in Rome six months ago, prompting Mischaël Modrikamen, the Movement’s managing director, to tweet that Italy’s deputy prime minister “is in!”

Bannon, in an interview with NBC and SourceMaterial to be broadcast at 9pm eastern time in the US on Sundayon , also takes issue with the pope’s warnings over resurgent populist movements. “You can go around Europe and it’s [populism] catching fire and the pope is just dead wrong,” said Bannon.

Following the September 2016 meeting between Salvini and Bannon, the League leader was photographed holding up a T-shirt emblazoned with the words: “Benedict is my pope.”

The slogan refers to a Vatican version of the “birther” campaign waged by Trump against Barack Obama, claiming that Francis’s papacy is illegitimate and that his ultra-conservative predecessor Benedict XVI is in fact the true pontiff.

The League source also alleged that Salvini would have attacked the pope harder but was restrained by his own party, predominantly by Giancarlo Giorgetti, the deputy federal secretary of Lega Nord who is close to senior figures in the Vatican.

Pope Francis greets women in Morocco, as part of a trip aimed at showing solidarity with migrants at Europe’s door. Photograph: Gregorio Borgia/AP

“[After the Bannon meeting] Salvini moved very tough and said: ‘We have to attack the Vatican, but the other guy said wait.’ Salvini thinks by himself and acts by himself … so he started to act [for example, by appearing with the ‘Benedict is my Pope’ T-shirt],” said the source.

Bannon has steadily been building opposition to Francis through his Dignitatis Humanae Institute, based in a 13th-century mountaintop monastery not far from Rome.

In January 2017, Bannon became a patron of the institute, whose honorary president is Cardinal Raymond Burke, an ultra-conservative who believes organised networks of homosexuals are spreading a “gay agenda” in the Vatican.

The institute’s chairman is former Italian MP Luca Volontè, on trial for corruption for accepting bribes from Azerbaijan . He has denied all charges.

Among the institute’s trustees is one of the pope’s most outspoken critics, Austin Ruse, a former contributor to rightwing news website Breitbart. Ruse runs C-FAM, an anti-abortion group whose founder was prone to antisemitic rants about population control and which has been termed a hate group by human rights campaigners. Like Volontè, Ruse is an official of the World Congress of Families, a gathering of far-right, anti-gay Christian groups backed by Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin.

Other trustees include Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Conservative thinktank the Bow Group, who met Bannon in London last summer, alongside Raheem Kassam, the former UK editor of Breitbart. Bannon was a founding member of Breitbart’s board.

Bannon was invited by the Observer to respond but at the time of publication had not yet replied.

Senators Urge US Govt to Delay Decision on India’s GSP Review

Senators Urge US Govt to Delay Decision on India’s GSP Review

Two top American Senators have urged the Trump administration to delay until the end of the general elections its decision to terminate India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preference (GSP) due to a lack of compliance.

The GSP is the largest and oldest US trade preference programme and is designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries. The US Congress in March last year voted to renew the GSP through 2020.

In a letter to US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, Senators John Cornyn from the Republican party and Mark Warner from the Democratic party argued that India-US relationship was too important to rush such an important decision in the middle of an election cycle.

“As you know, India’s elections will conclude on May 23, 2019. We believe that the election season may serve as a hindrance for our Indian counterparts in negotiating and concluding a deal on difficult political issues,” (sic) the two Senators wrote in the letter to Lighthizer on Friday.

It was in April last year that the USTR announced that it planned to review the GSP eligibility of a number of countries, including India.

The USTR’s announcement specifically cited “concerns related to its compliance with GSP market access criterion,” based on petitions filed from the US medical device and dairy industries.

“If another round of negotiations during the election season does not resolve the outstanding issues, we would ask you to consider delaying the issuance of a Presidential proclamation to withdraw India’s GSP benefits by at least 30 days, beyond the 60-day calendar, in order to move the negotiations beyond India’s elections,” the Senators said.

Allowing for continued negotiations beyond the elections would underscore the importance of this bilateral relationship and provide a real opportunity to resolve these market access issues, potentially improving the overall US-India relationship for years to come, said Cornyn and Warner, who are co-chairs of the powerful Senate India Caucus.

“We understand that the Trump administration may issue a proclamation withdrawing India’s GSP benefits 60 days or later from the congressional notification date,” the two Senators wrote.

The letter comes in the middle of the Lok Sabha election, during which the ruling government cannot take a major policy decision, which holds officials from making substantial progress on the crucial negotiations between India and the United States.

“Congressional support for the GSP programme was made clear last year when the US Senate and US House of Representatives reauthorised the programme, in nearly unanimous fashion, for three years,” they said.

“As Co-Chairs of the United States Senate’s India Caucus, we fully appreciate and support your efforts to address a host of market access issues facing American businesses in India.

On March 4, 2019, Congress was notified of USTR’s intention to terminate India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country under GSP due to a lack of compliance.

“While we agree that there are a number of market access issues that can and should be addressed, we do remain concerned that the withdrawal of duty concessions will make Indian exports of eligible products to the United States costlier, as the importer of those products will have to pay a ‘Most Favoured Nation’ (MFN) duty which is higher than the rate under GSP,” the Senators said.

Some of these costs will likely be passed on to American consumers, they told Lighthizer.

Instagram couple faces flak for ‘dangerous’ and ‘pointless’ infinity pool photo

Instagram couple faces flak for 'dangerous' and 'pointless' infinity pool photo

After the couple posted the picture, they were criticised by their followers for risking their lives.

Tribune Web Desk 
Chandigarh, April 13

An Instagram-famous couple recently shared a picture that will put you on the edge of your seat.

Kelly Castille, and Kody Workman, an American couple, recently took to their travel page on Instagram called @positravelty to post a scary picture by the infinity pool.In the picture, Workman can be seen holding Kelly by her arms over the edge of a three-storey infinity pool, her entire bikini-clad body dangling over the edge.

After the couple posted the picture, they were criticised by their followers for risking their lives.Though the photo was liked almost 19,000 times, they received several negative comments.

Instagram called the photo ridiculous and even called out Kody for risking Kelly’s life.

One user wrote: “Dumbest thing I’ve seen today. Imagine if she fell, all for the sake of a little internet fame.”

Another wrote: “Your stupidity, foolishness, pretentiousness, and utter lack of moral understanding blows my f***ing mind.”

“Why is the woman always the one risking themselves for pictures? Never see a guy hanging over a cliff,” one person said.

But turns out the picture doesn’t tell the entire story.

After being publicly ridiculed the couple revealed in a joint statement to a news portal, “As for safety we are all responsible for ourselves at the end of the day. The reality is that we felt safe, stable and confident for two reasons. First and foremost, there is another pool below that we cropped out of the shot for dramatisation.”

“Secondl we thought about this photo for days, considering the angles and potential,” said the couple.

Kody further revealed: “We are both in good shape, we know our bodies and in turn, we know our limits,” he explained.

“We had faith in each other and trust to pull this off and so we made the choice as a team to shoot it. There is a lip, where the ridge of the infinity pool juts out over the wall where Kelly could get a solid grip and place her weight on her forearms.”

“I held her the entire time and if zoomed you can actually see my grip on her arm. We have both jumped off waterfalls and bridges much higher than the infinity pool,” he added, “so the height aspect wasn’t a concern for us at all.”

Russia Fines Facebook Just $47 For Failing to Comply with Data Law

Russia Fines Facebook Just $47 For Failing to Comply with Data Law

A Moscow court, on Friday, 12 April fine Facebook 3,000 rubles ($47 approximately) for refusing to provide information on the localisation of personal data of Russian users of the service in the Russian Federation, news agency Interfax reported.

The legal proceedings started after a complaint from Roskomnadzor, the country’s telecommunications watchdog.

Roskomnadzor lodged a complaint after Facebook failed to comply with Russia’s data localisation legislation, Federal Law No 242-FZ, adopted in December 2014 and came into effect on 1 September 2015.

According to this legislation, all companies that accumulate, store or process the data of Russian citizens must do it in servers located inside Russian borders.

However, authorities have rarely ever enforced this law. According to a ZDNet report, a LinkedIn ban in Russia in 2016 was the most high profile case under this law.

Interfax, the Russian news agency that had reported the story first said that Facebook did not represent itself in the court.