Shahid Khan Buys the Jags

The NFL has its first minority owner and he happens to be a Pakistani-American. Shahid Khan, an Illinois businessman who owns the Flex-N-Gate Group, which makes automobile parts, is paying a reported $760 million to buy 100 percent of the Jacksonville Jaguars from Wayne Weaver. Yes, you’re going to see a brown man with a handlebar mustache giving high-fives in the owner’s box. How cool is that?

Khan, 61, came to America when he was 16, earned an engineering degree from the University of Illinois and fell in love with American football and a blonde named Ann Carlson. Over the years, Khan and his wife have given zillions to their alma mater.

Most recently, the couple made a $10 million donation for the Khan Annex to Huff Hall, home to the university’s college of Applied Health Sciences. “One of the great joys of my life is making money,” Khan said at the September dedication ceremony. “ … What makes it even better is to use it to make a difference.” [Florida Times-Union]

The big question hanging in the air in Jacksonville is whether Khan will keep the team in the city or try to move it to L.A. So far, Khan is saying all the right things, but will he be able to resist the hundreds of millions he could make by moving to a much larger market?

It will also be interesting to see whether Khan keeps a low profile or seeks the limelight. Will he be the type of owner who’s on the sidelines, chatting with players, and always ready to make comments to the media? Or will he stay in the background and let his coach and general manager run the show? If he enjoys being in the news, then you can bet that L.A. will be very tempting.

The Elastic View of Rules

Suketu Mehta, journalism professor and Maximum City author, landed an exclusive interview with Raj Rajaratnam and wrote a compelling article for Newsweek on the former hedge fund titan who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for insider trading. Rajaratnam, of Sri Lankan origin, has some choice words for the Indian-American associates who betrayed him. But some readers might have choice words for Mehta, who suggests that Rajaratnam is not too different from other South Asian immigrants.

The whole story speaks to the South Asian–American community: its pursuit of success and money at any cost; the differences between immigrants and the first generation; and the immigrants’ incomplete understanding of the rigor of the law in the U.S. [Daily Beast]

Just in case you have an incomplete understanding of what he means, here it is again later in the article.

The Rajaratnam case can be seen as a metaphor of the difference between immigrants from South Asia, who have a more elastic view of rules and a more keenly developed art of networking, and their children, the first generation, schooled to play by American rules. [Daily Beast]

Elastic view of rules? For a moment there, I thought he was referring to the rules of journalism.

Touchdown, Hyderabad Skykings!

EFLI.jpgAre you ready for some football? I am. I’ve been an NFL fan for many years, recently got into the CFL and hope to soon be watching the EFLI: Elite Football League of India.

Yes, American football in India. No, this isn’t a story from The Onion.

According to Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal, the eight-team league, which will begin play in Nov. 2012, is being backed by investors such as Mike Ditka, Ron Jaworski, Michael Irvin and Brandon Chillar (the Indian-American linebacker formerly of the Green Bay Packers).

The founding teams are the Hyderabad Skykings, Bhubaneswar Warhawks, Goa Swarm, Mumbai Gladiators, Dehi Royal Fleet, Punjab Warriors, Pune Blacktigers and Kolkata Vipers. Sorry, no Bengals or Browns.

“India has no history of american football, but backers sure cuz country is crazy about american entertainment, this will fly,” Kaplan tweeted, adding in another tweet: “They are training rugby players right now. Top rugby coaches involved. Seriously unlikely any US players would got there.”

Rugby players? Seriously? Rugby may be the closest sport to football, but that’s like preparing for the PGA tour by playing croquet. 

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AP gets a fail on plane crash article

Journalists need to tread carefully when reporting certain stories, especially when a family rajaramanViswanathan.jpgtragedy is involved. They need to weigh the public’s need to know against the concerns of the family. And most of all, they need to be fair. Well, you can give the Associated Press a FAIL on their reporting of the deaths of Dr. Viswanathan Rajaraman and his wife, Dr. Mary Sundaram.

A small plane crashed into a cornfield and caught fire early Sunday, killing the parents of a former Harvard University student who lost a $500,000 book contract because parts of her first novel were copied from other works. [Link]

It’s been five years since Kaavya’s scandal and it seems unseemly to bring it up in the very first paragraph of an article that should have focused on the death of a brilliant and beloved neurosurgeon. In fact, I wonder if it’s necessary to mention it at all. Perhaps it is, but you can argue that the death of two doctors in a plane crash is newsworthy enough, without bringing up their daughter’s much-publicized but well-in-the-past literary sin. In any case, the Indo-Asian News Service seems to have handled the article better than the AP, even if they didn’t do much original reporting themselves.

Here are just a couple of comments about Dr. Rajaraman from a article.

Dr. Raj was an awesome man… Very nice, friendly, smartest DR. I have ever had the pleasure to work with & for. I still dont want to believe this horrible news. Dr. Raj used to always come to my desk and ask me for Chocolate, and we used to laugh.. I will never, ever forget you… May you and your beautiful wife REST IN PEACE….. GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN…. (Paola S)

The surgery Dr. Rajaraman performed on me changed my life. Such a kind man. I feel blessed to have met him. Such a loss to the world. My deepest condolences to the entire family. (D. Mariniello)

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The Return of Manny Malhotra

If you’re not a hockey fan, you may not have heard of Manny Malhotra, the greatest desi everMalhotra.jpg to hit the ice (Smirnoff included). After suffering a severe eye injury on March 16, he recovered just in time to give a boost to the Vancouver Canucks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final (you may have caught parts of it during the Extreme Makeover commercial breaks).

The Canucks led in the circle in the regular season, at 54.9 per cent. They’re at 49.9 in the playoffs and a lot of the drop-off is because Malhotra and his 61.7 per cent win rate were on the sidelines until Game 2.

“Over the last couple of weeks as I’ve started to work toward this goal, being able to take draws against guys like Kes and Hank and Lappy really pushes you to get to that next level,” said Malhotra. “The competitive level we have at centre really gets your timing back.”

Malhotra did remarkably well overall in 7: 26 of ice time. He played 13 shifts, including killing penalties and taking a leftwing shift on the third line in relief of Raffi Torres.

He purposely kept his game simple and saw the 7: 26 as a good transition back into playing. In the regular season, as one of the best third line centres in the league and in the conversation for the Selke Trophy for top defensive forward, Malhotra averaged 16: 09. [Vancouver Province]

The Bruins walloped the Canucks 8-1 in Game 3, but Malhotra’s team still leads the series 2-1 and has home ice advantage.

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Russell Peters: One freedom Americans don’t have

Comedian Russell Peters was interviewed yesterday on The Current, a news show on Russell Peters.jpgCBC Radio (the NPR of Canada) hosted by Anna Maria Tremonti. He had some interesting thoughts on freedom of speech in America — or the lack of it.

AMT: “So you’re living in the States now … Can you feel free to speak the same way you speak other places?”

RP: “No, in the States, you’ve really got to watch what you say. In Canada too, but not as much. But in the States, you really do. You’ve got to think about what you say before you say it. I don’t know where they get off saying that America has this freedom of speech thing. That’s the one freedom they don’t have … is freedom of speech. Nobody says what they want to say. And when people do, they get labeled as crazy or out of their mind or whatever or renegades … They don’t respect you if you actually say what’s on your mind.”

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Ruby, Parm or Manjit? — updated

Dhalla Gill Grewal.jpgCanadians vote in a federal election on May 2 and one of the most interesting races is in Brampton-Springdale, just outside Toronto. One out of three people in Brampton is South Asian, the highest proportion among all municipalities in Canada, and residents are not asking whether a South Asian will represent them in Parliament — they are asking which South Asian will represent them in Parliament. Will it be Ruby, Parm or Manjit?

All three of the major party candidates are Punjabi (just as in the neighboring riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton). Ruby Dhalla, the Liberal incumbent, a former actress and chiropractor, has held the seat since 2004. She and Nina Grewal, a Conservative from British Columbia, were the first Sikh women to serve in the Canadian House of Commons and have twice defended their seats.

Dhalla’s chief rival is Parm Gill, the Conservative candidate, whom she defeated by less than 800 votes in 2008, and whom she accuses of inappropriate access to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

The third major candidate is Manjit Grewal, nominee of the New Democratic Party (NDP). He doesn’t appear to have much of a chance, aside from the fact that he co-owns a taxi company and will have no trouble giving voters free rides to the polls.

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M. Night Shyamalan’s “Film School 2”

It was 1999, the movie “Sixth Sense” was packing theaters and M. Night Shyamalan The Next Spiel.jpglooked like a genius, a directing prodigy destined to win more Oscars than Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson combined. He was soon dubbed “The Next Spielberg” and every moviegoer learned to pronounce his name — or at least gave it a game try: “M. Night Shy May Lawn.”

A movie trailer trumpeting his name — “FROM THE MIND OF M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN” — would keep you from running to the bathroom during a Monday Night Football timeout, never mind that you’d just downed five Budweisers. You’d sit there and try to imagine what suspense and intrigue the mastermind had conjured this time — and how soon Spielberg would make his concession speech.

Shyamalan was the biggest South Asian name in America, with apologies to Deepak Chopra and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Malayalis were quick to pronounce him a fellow Malayali. Tamils were quick to say, “No, he’s a Tamil.” And Philly Grrl was quick to say, “No, he’s a Philly Gy.”

Then came a string of movies that caused critics to groan and audiences to moan. His last offering, “The Last Airbender,” was the last straw for many fans. It virtually swept the Golden Raspberry Awards, winning five Razzies, including “Worst Director” and “Worst Picture.” Roger Ebert gave the movie half a star and called it “an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented.” Malayalis conceded that he’s a Tamil. Tamils insisted that he’s a Malayali. And Philly Grrl said, “You’re both right.”

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Original copy

Hello and welcome to another episode of Original Copy, the show that Aroon-Purie.jpgteaches you how to make your mark in the competitive world of journalism. Today we bring you a lesson on what to do if you’re caught lifting another writer’s work. As you may have heard, Aroon Purie, editor-in-chief of India Today, had to apologize for a recent “From the Editor-in-Chief” column that included lines like this: “If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth.”

As it turns out, that sentence and nine others originally appeared in Slate writer Grady Hendrix’s article on Rajinikanth. Purie sent apologies to Hendrix and Slate editor David Plotz, which Hendrix included in a piece called “Great Writers Steal.”

It’s my normal practice in my letter from the editor to enumerate why we carry a particular cover story. In the regional edition of our weekly newsmagazine India Today issue dated Oct 18th 2010 we carried a cover story on the film star Rajinikant.

I normally ask for inputs on subjects that are specialized , as for instance a superhit filmstar from the south, from those in charge of editing the copy. Some of the inputs which were sent to me on Rajinikant were unfortunately taken from an article authored by Mr. G Hendrix in your magazine. This was not known to me. I believed it to be original copy and a portion of it got included as inputs in my longer letter from the editor which got published. I greatly regret this error.

Rajinikanth is indeed a very specialized subject, one that’s studied diligently at many Tamil Nadu theaters. So it’s no surprise that Purie asked for inputs, and believed them to be “original copy.”

Purie: “Original copy?”

Assistant: “Yes, sir, we are the first ones to copy it.”

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