World and Nation

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J.K. Rowling, in Court, Assails ‘Harry Potter Lexicon’

J.K. Rowling, the creator of the wildly popular Harry Potter series who rose from poverty to become the world’s most famous children’s author, took the stand in a Manhattan courtroom on Monday to sharply criticize a fan accused of stealing her work to publish a reference guide.

Accompanied by a security detail, Rowling arrived at a federal courthouse in downtown Manhattan on Monday morning to argue her case against RDR Books, a small Michigan publisher that hopes to publish a print version of a popular Web site called “The Harry Potter Lexicon.” Created by Steven Vander Ark, a school librarian and fan of the series, the lexicon Web site has attracted millions of readers and even won praise from Rowling herself — though Rowling said she drew the line when RDR and Vander Ark attempted to sell a print version for a profit.

Legal analysts say the outcome of the case could set a crucial precedent in the literary world, one that determines the extent to which fans can use and build upon the works of their favorite authors.

Dressed in a black dress and pinstriped suit, Rowling harshly criticized Vander Ark and his Lexicon manuscript, calling it a compilation of phrases and facts that were taken from her book and rewritten “without quotation marks around it,” and saying the manuscript was “sloppy” and “lazy.” Besides stepping on her plans to publish her own encyclopedia, she said, the Lexicon manuscript was also “derivative” and “riddled with errors.”

Hollywood and Silicon Valley Try Again to Bridge Their Divide

A story that Dan Scheinman, a senior vice president at Cisco Systems in San Jose, Calif., likes to tell illustrates the cultural divide between Hollywood and his Silicon Valley.

Last year he met with an affluent film producer who marveled at the extraordinary riches afforded Google executives. Scheinman told him that most got wealthy accepting stock options instead of million-dollar salaries. When Scheinman asked if the producer would ever accept equity instead of cash if they worked together, the moviemaker sniffed.

“I fly a G4,” he told Scheinman, referring to the Gulfstream jet he owned. “How far do you think my G4 will go on stock options? I need cash.”

Only 350 miles separate the two California business cultures, and technology and entertainment executives are worlds apart. But they are circling each other once again, trying to figure how best to combine forces to get movies, videos and other programming to homes and cell phones. Of course, media moguls and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs working together again has all the familiarity of a late-night rerun.

In the 1990s, venture capitalists saw a parade of celebrities make their way to Sand Hill Road seeking backing for their online ventures. Many VCs eagerly had their photographs taken with a starlet or two. But as deals cratered or never got off the ground, the relationship between the camps ended up less a marriage, than friends with benefits.

Former Maoist Guerrillas Lead in Nepal Vote Tally

Barely two years out of the jungle, former Maoist guerrillas were poised Monday to lead Nepal’s new government, as initial election results signaled that voters had chosen to remove most of their veteran politicians from office and sought a radical break with the past.

Of the 196 directly elected legislative seats for which results had been tallied, the Maoists picked up 108 in the voting Thursday, the Election Commission announced, according to The Associated Press. Far behind were the Nepali Congress Party, with 31 seats, and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), or UML, with 27.

In addition to a total of 240 directly elected seats in the new, 601-member Constituent Assembly, there are 335 indirectly elected seats, intended to give women and marginalized castes and ethnic groups a greater voice in the government. The other 26 seats are appointive.

The partial results of last week’s voting point toward a Maoist landslide, which would defy predictions, though the final count, which could take weeks, could tilt the election differently, or at least reduce the Maoists’ margin.

The results will bear mightily on Nepal’s future: The new assembly will rewrite the country’s constitution and govern the country while it is doing so.

McCain Joins Fray on Obama

Sen. John McCain threw himself into the culture war between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday. He said at a gathering of news executives that comments by Obama about working-class voters were “elitist” and a “fundamental contradiction of what I believe America’s all about.”

McCain’s remarks were his first public comments on the issue since Obama told a group of wealthy donors on April 6 that small-town Pennsylvania voters, “bitter” over their economic circumstances, “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” as a way to explain their frustrations.

The comments on Monday reflected the strategy of McCain and his advisers — similar to Clinton’s tactics — to portray Obama as out of touch with ordinary Americans, particularly the white working-class voters whom Clinton and McCain are wooing for November.

McCain stopped short of calling Obama an elitist, although he did not show great warmth for him in a question-and-answer session after McCain’s formal remarks at the annual meeting of The Associated Press at the Washington Convention Center.

The AP meeting coincides with the annual conferences of the Newspaper Association of America and the American Society of Newspaper Editors.