Former Miss Washington among women who say Trump groped them

The women say they felt compelled to speak after Trump denied ever engaging in such conduct. One says she encountered him on a plane, the other in Trump Tower.

Three Toronto police officers face assault charges

Const. Piara Dhaliwal, Const. John Darnell, and Const. Adam Morris are facing assault charges.

By VJOSA ISAI Toronto Star

Ontario’s police watchdog has charged three Toronto police officers with assault following an incident during a 2013 arrest — and two of the officers have been in trouble before.
A 46-year-old man was arrested at his home on Feb. 13, 2013, and was taken to a police station in the back of a police cruiser, the Special Investigations Unit said in a media release Tuesday morning.
There was “an interaction” between the man and three officers during transportation, the SIU says, and the man was taken to Humber River Regional Hospital to examine what was determined to be a serious injury. The SIU was informed of the incident in August 2015.
Const. John Darnell, Const. Piara Dhaliwal, and Const. Adam Morris are facing assault charges. They will appear in court on Nov. 3; all three officers have been suspended with pay, said Const. Meaghan Gray.
Dhaliwal was subject to a Professional Standards investigation after an Ontario Court judge found that his testimony and that of his partner to be “deliberately misleading” and added that Dhaliwal’s actions “amounted to an assault.”
Dhaliwal and Const. Akin Gul alleged they were assaulted by Abdi Sheik-Qasim while investigating a noise complaint in January 2014.
Sheik-Qasim, then 32, had taken out a cellphone to record the encounter. Within seconds, Dhaliwal knocked the phone out of Sheik-Qasim’s hand; Sheik-Qasim was then arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer and failing to comply with a court order.
The phone was seized by the officers at the time, but not returned to him after he was released from detention. However, the phone automatically uploaded video files to the cloud, and the video evidence was used during his trial.
“Officer Dhaliwal’s swing of his arm and hand was the very first physical force during the interaction. The accused didn’t grab a hold of the belt of Officer Gul in advance of this action by Officer Dhaliwal,” said Ontario Court Justice Edward Kelly, adding he had doubt it happened at all.
“I believe that Officer Dhaliwal’s action amounted to an assault against the accused,” Kelly said in a decision issued Sept. 10, 2015.
Sheik-Qasim was acquitted of both charges. It is not known what result the Professional Standards investigation produced.
Meanwhile, Gray confirmed one of the officers, Const. Adam Morris, was arrested back in 2013.Morris was pulled over on Hwy. 400 when he was approached by a York Region police officer, after having several drinks in an industrial parking lot after reporting off duty.
York police officers performed a breathalyzer test, which Morris failed. He was taken back to a station, where his gun was seized by police. Morris took two more breath tests, one showing he was exactly at the legal limit and the second showing he was over it.
He was released with no criminal charges, and instead received a three-day driving suspension.
“The decisions of certain members of the York Regional Police Service not to proceed with criminal charges against Const. Morris should in no way detract from the seriousness of this misconduct,” the prosecutor told the disciplinary hearing in 2013.
Morris apologized for his actions and told the hearing it would never happen again. He was docked 18 days pay.
The SIU investigates allegations of police involvement in any interactions resulting in sexual assault, injury, or death.
With files from Jayme Poisson, Jesse McLean, and Wendy Gillis

At least one dead, 100 injured after New Jersey train plows into platform: ‘I heard panicked screams’

DAVID PORTER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

HOBOKEN, N.J. — A crowded commuter train crashed into the bustling Hoboken station during the morning rush hour Thursday, killing at least one person and injuring more than 100 others, some critically, in a tangle of broken concrete, twisted metal and dangling cables, authorities said.

People pulled concrete off bleeding victims and passengers kicked out windows and crawled out amid crying and screaming after the arriving New Jersey Transit train smashed through a barrier at the end of its track and ground to a halt in a covered waiting area. It apparently knocked out pillars, collapsing a section of the roof onto the first car.

Ross Bauer, an IT specialist who was heading to his Manhattan job from his home in Hackensack, was sitting in the third or fourth car when the train plowed into the historic 109-year-old station.

“All of a sudden, there was an abrupt stop and a big jolt that threw people out of their seats. The lights went out, and we heard a loud crashing noise — like an explosion — that turned out to be the roof of the terminal,” he said. “I heard panicked screams, and everyone was stunned.”

The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known. The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators.

Investigators will want to know what the operator was doing before the crash and whether the person was distracted, said Bob Chipkevich, who formerly headed the NTSB train crash investigations section.

Gov. Chris Christie said one person was killed.

The Hoboken Terminal, which handles more than 50,000 train and bus riders daily, is just across the Hudson River from New York City. It is the final stop for several train lines and a transfer point for many commuters on their way to New York City. Many passengers get off at Hoboken and take ferries or a PATH commuter train to New York.

None of NJ Transit’s trains are fully equipped with positive train control, a safety system designed to prevent accidents by automatically slowing or stopping trains that are going too fast. The industry is under government orders to install PTC, but the deadline has been repeatedly extended by regulators at the request of the railroads. The deadline is now the end of 2018.

Jennifer Nelson, a spokeswoman for NJ Transit, said she didn’t know how fast the train was going when it crashed through the bumper. Rail service was suspended in and out of Hoboken.

Passenger Bhagyesh Shah said the train was crowded, particularly the first two cars, because they make for an easy exit into the Hoboken station. Passengers in the second car broke the emergency windows to get out.

“I saw a woman pinned under concrete,” Shah told WNBC-TV in New York. “A lot of people were bleeding; one guy was crying.”

Brian Klein, whose train arrived at the station after the crash, told The Wall Street Journal that transit police ushered everyone aboard his train into a waiting room, “then quickly started yelling, ‘Just get out! We don’t know if the building is going to hold.’”

The train had left Spring Valley, New York, at 7:23 a.m. and crashed at 8:45 a.m., said NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder.

More than 100,000 people use NJ Transit trains to commute from New Jersey into New York City daily.

“It simply did not stop,” WFAN anchor John Minko, who witnessed the crash, told 1010 WINS. “It went right through the barriers and into the reception area.”
NJ Transit provides more than 200 million passenger trips annually on bus, rail and light rail lines. More than 100,000 people use NJ Transit trains to commute from New Jersey into New York City daily.

A crash at the same station on a different train line injured more than 30 people in 2011. The PATH commuter train crashed into bumpers at the end of the tracks on a Sunday morning.

The Hoboken Terminal, which was built in 1907 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has undergone waves of restoration, including a major project launched by NJ Transit in April 2004 that largely restored the building to its original condition. The station was extensively damaged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and underwent major repairs.


With files from Karen Matthews and Deepti Hajela in Hoboken, Verena Dobnik in New York and Joan Lowy in Washington.

New Delhi (CNN)When India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi concludes his three-day visit to Washington on Wednesday, he will likely reflect on how the relationship between the world’s two biggest democracies is becoming ever closer, a step towards fulfilling U.S. President Barack Obama’s prophesy that India and the United States would form “one of the defining partnerships” of the 21st century.

At the very least, Modi deserves credit for generating an impressive amount of air miles. This week marks his fourth U.S. visit since assuming office in 2014. It is also the seventh time he has met Obama.
But there is an important first this week too: Wednesday will mark the first time Modi has been invited to address a Joint Meeting of Congress in the House Chamber — an honor bestowed on just a few world leaders every year.
Wednesday’s address to Congress will complete an unlikely turnaround for Modi, going from outcast to prize in just over two years.
The clouds hanging over Modi’s reputation date back to 2002 when he was Chief Minister of the western state of Gujarat. More than a thousand Muslims were killed by rampaging Hindus in the final act of an ugly spate of riots. Human rights activists have long alleged that Modi was complicit; India’s courts have been unable to prove any truth to those claims.
Reacting to the controversy over Modi’s alleged role, U.S. officials denied him a visa in 2005 on the grounds of a little-used clause of the Immigration and Nationality Act barring foreign officials from entry if they were deemed responsible of what the Act calls “violations of religious freedom.”
When Modi became Prime Minister the clause was rendered irrelevant. The leader of the world’s biggest democracy was simply too important.
ALSO READ: Does India like Donald Trump?

On his first visit to New York Modi stunned the city by drawing a crowd of twenty thousand supporters to his speech at Madison Square Gardens. Modi had arrived. He appeared at another rally in the company of ‘Wolverine’ actor Hugh Jackman. In subsequent visits he was seen with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

Come Wednesday, the rehabilitation will be whole. Modi is now known around the world mostly for his electrifying oratory, for being decisive on foreign policy, and for talking up domestic successes – even while some of his main projects are stymied by political gridlock.

Why Washington?

This is largely a win-win visit for both leaders.
For Obama, India could be seen as a foreign policy success, far away from the crises of Syria and Libya, the unease with Russia, or the competition with China. New Delhi has emerged as a partner in the Indian Ocean and a hedge against China’s ambitions. U.S.-India ties in defense, intelligence sharing, trade, and investment have gotten stronger. A steady stream of U.S. CEOs make their way to India every month, looking to cash in on a country that is increasingly seen as a rare growth spot in a bleak global economy.
Inviting Modi to Washington is Obama’s way of sealing one part of his foreign policy legacy.
As India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar put it to reporters at a briefing in New Delhi last week, there are very few world leaders Obama wants to see in his remaining months in office. Modi is clearly one of them.
Modi, meanwhile, can’t get enough of the United States. Modi’s global travels get unprecedented coverage at home, but none more so than his visits to America. The Indian media has often trumpeted the so-called chemistry between the two leaders, branding it a “bromance.” In reality, Modi has been wise to be effusive in public while keeping private any lingering resentment and embarrassment from his erstwhile travel ban.
For Modi, the benefits of a strong American friendship are clear: being aligned closer to Washington means he can attract more business and trade, which has always been his top priority. As the Brookings Institution’s Tanvi Madan points out, U.S.-India trade has jumped from $60 billion in 2009 to $107 billion in 2015; sales of U.S. defense equipment to India now reach $14 billion, up some 50-fold from a decade ago. The U.S. is also expected to help India join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a club of countries trading materials for nuclear energy.
Crucially for India, which has in the past flirted more with the Soviet Union than the United States, New Delhi’s friendship with Washington hasn’t cost it its own independent views. While cozying up to the White House, India has continued to forge ahead with investments in Iran, for example, such as its recent development of the Iranian port, Chabahar.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

What to expect

As with many pow-wows between big leaders, don’t expect too much of substance to emerge. This week is more about symbolism and ironing out plans long in the works, such as military cooperation and minor shifts in energy policy.
It is significant that Modi will be arriving in the U.S. from Switzerland, and traveling onwards to Mexico — both are countries that are members of the NSG, and crucial to rallying support for India’s bid to join the group.
America’s support will be vital too. In return, Obama may push Modi to advance his climate change agenda following the Paris Agreement signed in 2015.

Looming controversies?

While Modi is clearly no longer an outcast in Washington, he may yet have to answer some uncomfortable questions. He is expected to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, some of whom have been vocal about Modi’s human rights record, including what many see as a rising climate of hostility towards Muslims in India.
More publicly, a congressional commission will hold a hearing on Tuesday examining human rights in India. The session is expected to take place right as Modi and Obama meet.
Modi will not have a chance to project beyond Obama just yet. This will likely be Modi’s final meeting with President Obama as the world wonders who Modi’s next counterpart will be.

Modi, Obama welcome work on nuclear reactors in India

India and the U.S. Export-Import Bank intend to work together toward a competitive financing package.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday welcomed the start of preparatory work on six nuclear reactors in India, a key step in closing the first deal stemming from a U.S.-India civil nuclear accord struck over a decade ago.
The two leaders said in a joint statement that India and the U.S. Export-Import Bank intend to work together toward a competitive financing package for the project and will work to finalize contractual agreements by June 2017.
“Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind, fulfilling the promise of the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement and demonstrating a shared commitment to meet India’s growing energy needs while reducing reliance on fossil fuels,” the joint statement said.
Mr. Obama said he and Mr. Modi discussed how to ensure a worldwide agreement forged in Paris to curb climate change could be enacted swiftly.
“We discussed how we can, as quickly as possible, bring the Paris agreement into force,” Mr. Obama told reporters .

The Hindu.com

Narendra Modi Bolsters India’s Ties With U.S., Thanks (Partly) to Donald Trump

New York Times

WASHINGTON — After decades of mistrust and fitful reconciliation efforts,India and the United States made a turn toward cooperation on Tuesday, and Donald J. Trump can claim at least some of the credit.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, making his second visit to the White House in two years, announced a crucial step toward ratification of the Paris agreement to limit greenhouse gases, bringing the accord close to full implementation.

The two sides also announced that they intended to complete a deal in which India will buy six nuclear reactors from Westinghouse by June 2017, fulfilling an agreement struck in 2005 by President George W. Bush. The price is still under discussion, but more difficult issues like liability have been resolved.

“We continue to discuss a wide range of areas where we can cooperate more effectively in order to promote jobs, promote investment, promote trade and promote greater opportunities for our people, particularly young people, in both of our countries,” President Obama said in the Oval Office during the meeting.

Mr. Modi responded with his own praise of the burgeoning partnership. When President Obama visited India in January 2015, Mr. Modi referred to him as “Barack” and thanked him for his “deep personal commitment” to their friendship. In the Oval Office on Tuesday, Mr. Modi referred to the president as “my friend Obama.”

“The United States is well aware of the talent that India has,” Mr. Modi said in Hindi. “We and the United States can work together to bring forward this talent, and use it for the benefit of mankind and use it for the benefit of innovations and use it to achieve new progress.”

Mr. Modi has made clear that he intends to set aside decades of standoffishness — rooted in India’s colonial experience — to cement closer ties with Washington, in part because the next American leader may not share President Obama’s enthusiasm for India.

The news media in India has extensively chronicled comments by Mr. Trump that critics have said were racist, his “America First” views and his unorthodox campaign. While Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has said little about India, his vows to tighten immigration policies worry Indian officials.

“Modi wants to get as much as he can out of Obama’s last months in office,” said Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

For the Americans, the most important part of Mr. Modi’s visit was his announced intention to formally join the Paris climate change agreement by the end of this year. So far, countries representing about 50 percent of global emissions have announced that they will submit legal paperwork to the United Nations documenting their compliance with the deal.

The pact will become binding when at least 55 countries representing 55 percent of global emissions formally join. The inclusion of India, the world’s third-largest emitter after China and the United States, would guarantee that the deal will go into effect before the next American president takes office.

Mr. Trump has vowed to “cancel” the Paris climate agreement if elected, something Mr. Obama is eager to prevent. Once the accord enters into legal force, no nation can legally withdraw for four years.

“If the Paris agreement achieves ratification before Inauguration Day, it would be impossible for the Trump administration to renegotiate or even drop out during the first presidential term,” said Robert N. Stavins, the director of the environmental economics program at Harvard.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi also announced a separate agreement to cut the use of hydrofluorocarbons, potent planet-warming chemicals produced by coolants in refrigerators and air-conditioners. India and the United States have been at odds on the details of such a deal, but the agreement announced on Tuesday means both governments now expect in October to sign on to an international accord to phase out the chemicals. Phasing out the chemicals could reduce by 25 percent the expected warming of the planet by the end of the century.

“This is the most significant step the international community could take” to reduce climate warming, Brian Deese, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, said in a call with reporters.

The two sides also announced joint efforts for the United States to invest in India’s renewable energy development, including the creation of a $20 million finance initiative.

The last time Mr. Modi visited, in September 2014, he was invited to dinner but announced that he was observing a religious fast. So Mr. Obama had the awkward task of eating before a guest who sipped only water. This time, at a working lunch, Mr. Modi ate.

On Wednesday, Mr. Modi will become the fifth Indian prime minister to address both houses of Congress.

The two countries finalized a deal that allows their forces to help each other with crucial supplies, and the United States formally recognized India as a major defense partner, which should allow India to buy some of the most sophisticated equipment in the United States arsenal.

India’s increasing willingness to form military partnerships with the United States is, in part, a result of its deepening worries about China. Recent patrols by Chinese submarines in the Bay of Bengal have unnerved New Delhi, and a 2014 visit to India by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, did nothing to soothe Indian sensibilities, as Chinese troops made an incursion into border territory that India claims as its own.

China’s refusal in the months since to resolve the territorial claims at the heart of the standoff has quietly infuriated Indian officials.

Another reason Washington and New Delhi have grown so close is the increasingly testy relationship between the United States and Pakistan, India’s longtime rival. Although Pakistan is formally an ally of the United States, American officials have made clear that India has displaced Pakistan in American interests and hearts.

“We have much more to do with India today than has to do with Pakistan,” Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said in April. “There is important business with respect to Pakistan, but we have much more, a whole global agenda with India, agenda that covers all kinds of issues.”

‘They are evil monsters that attack us night and day’: Senegal’s terrifying killer hippo problem

BY PETER HOLLEY, WASHINGTON POST

Each day, when Ali Fall heads to work, he knows he’s tempting death.

The 25-year-old is not a soldier or a police officer battling urban crime, but a simple fisherman – one who spends his days hauling nets in the the waters of Gambia river in eastern Senegal, according to Agence France Presse.

It might be a placid existence, were it not for an aggressive creature lurking at the water’s edge.

That animal, AFP reports, is the reason Fall conducted his interview from a hospital bed, where he was wrapped in bloodied bandages.

He is lucky to be alive.

“I came with another fisherman to pick up the nets I had left when the hippopotamus upended our boat,” Fall told AFP. “My friend got away, but it bit into my left leg, then my right.”

“It’s the second time I’ve been attacked, after their first attempt in 2014,” he added. “I’ve cheated death twice.”

Many others from his village of Gouloumbou have not, as the waters “have often run red with the blood of his peers,” according to AFP.

In the last decade, hippos – the most dangerous mammal in Africa, according to National Geographic – have mauled 25 fishermen to death and injured many more in Gouloumbou, elders told AFP.

“Hippopotamus” is Greek for “river horse.” Unlike horses, whose instinct is to flee from danger, hippos are unpredictable, territorial and often tempestuous, making them fearsome creatures in spite of their doughy, almost cartoonish appearance.

Videos showing the animals fearlessly brutalizing crocodiles are commonly posted on YouTube.

Despite that appearance, they are deceptively fast, especially in water, where they become graceful swimmers. A viral YouTube video shows a hippo chasing tourists on a motorboat and briefly keeping pace.

The massive herbivores are also surprisingly swift on land, clocking in at an estimated 18 to 30 mph, according to the Nature Conservancy.

“Hippo pods are led by dominant males, which can weigh 6,000 pounds or more,” according to a Smithsonian magazine article from 2006. “Females and most other males weigh between 3,500 and 4,500 pounds, and all live about 40 years.”

“Though they occasionally spar with crocodiles, a growing number of skirmishes are with humans,” the magazine notes. “Hippos have trampled or gored people who strayed too near, dragged them into lakes, tipped over their boats and bitten off their heads.”

Reports of marauding hippos surface in countries across Africa and Asia every few years. The exact number of people killed and injured each year by hippos is not known.

But regarding one notable period of destruction 16 years ago, AFP reported that rampaging herds of hippos were “spreading terror” among farmers and fishermen along the river Niger, in the west African country of the same name. Local authorities told the wire service in 2000 that the animals were attacking boatmen and were responsible for smashing or sinking about a dozen vessels.

The hippos were also attacking cattle grazing near the riverbank; locals, it seemed, were defenceless.

“Teams armed with machetes, clubs and burning torches have been set up to protect the rice fields, but a local trader said the strategy was ineffective because the villagers are unable to resist the charges of the ravenous animals,” AFP reported at the time.

More recently, a 2014 hippo attack in the same country left 12 children and an adult dead, according to AFP. The hippo flipped a boat transporting the group across a river en route to school, though the AFP report did not clarify whether the students drowned or were mauled, either by a single hippo or by a pod.

“Ultimately it was 12 students, including seven girls and five boys, who died after the attack,” Minister of Secondary Education Aichatou Oumani told AFP at the time.

In Gouloumbou, village chief Abdoulaye Barro Watt has described a terrifying and treacherous situation. He told AFP that locals like Fall continue to endure the wrath of violent hippos because the river is their only source of income.

“These men are struggling to survive due to these attacks,” he said. “I have written so many letters to the authorities, even the fisheries minister, to make them aware of the problem.”

Even so, Gouloumbou villagers told AFP, venturing into the waters is a last resort, in part because their ethnic group’s traditional fishing boat – a wooden skiff known as a “pirogue” – provides little protection from an angry hippo.

Moussa Bocar Gueye said he hasn’t been fishing in three weeks.

“They are evil monsters who attack us night and day,” he told AFP. “Because of them, we haven’t been fishing. There aren’t any more fish at the market.”
But killing hippos is not an option, AFP reports, because they’re a protected species in Senegal.

Fishermen aren’t the only ones vulnerable to attack, according to AFP.

Villagers rely on the tributary to wash their clothes and bathe, but they do so warily.

“I’m scared they’ll attack,” Aminata Sy, who does laundry in the river, told AFP. “That’s why I always stay facing the river.”

“We don’t have a well or any taps,” she added.

There is some hope, however.

Djibril Signate, Senegal’s national director of inland fishing, told the news service that the government plans to provide fishermen with 20 metal pirogues – with motors – to provide more safety during an attack.

“We are installing a fish farming enclosure in Gouloumbou,” Signate said. “The ministry has also distributed nets, hooks and lifejackets so they can fish in pools that are chock full (of fish).”

Despite the new boats and the fishing enclosure, Fall has had enough of the hippos lurking in the river.

“After I get better,” he said, “I’m changing profession.”

Surrey man accused of running ‘terror camp’ near Mission

A Surrey man is accused of running a “terror camp” near Mission that’s plotting attacks in the Punjab, according to an India news report.

By CHERYL CHAN

An article published Monday in the Times of India cited a report by Punjab intelligence identifying Hardeep Nijjar as the “operational head of (the) Khalistan Terror Force (KTF).” 

According to the report, Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, has lived in Surrey since 1995. 

He is wanted in India in connection with a blast at a cinema in Ludhiana in the Punjab province, where six people died in 2007. 

The report alleges Nijjar has been training at least four Sikh youths on how to use AK-47s for the purpose of carrying out attacks in India. 

The training took place “in a (rifle) range near Mission where they were made to fire for four hours daily,” said the report. 

One of the trainees, Mandeep Singh, was arrested two weeks ago, said the Times. Singh arrived in India in January from Canada and is accused of being involved in a terrorist plot. 

The report claims Singh was on a reconnaissance mission and that Nijjar was to arrange weapons from Pakistan.

The Times said India intelligence agencies have alerted Canadian authorities to the alleged camp, and have already submitted an application seeking Nijjar’s extradition.

Global Affairs Canada wasn’t available for comment late Sunday.

This isn’t the first time India authorities have requested Canada track Nijjar. In 2015, India police requested RCMP track his whereabouts after he was suspected of a plot to transport ammunition by paraglider over the Pakistan-India border. 

That plan was foiled after the arrest of Jagtar Tara, described as the former chief of the KTF.

Hardy Grewal, Subway franchise kingpin, donates $1M to Concordia

Son of Indian farmers came to Canada with $7, former cabbie now owns 2,100 fast-food franchises

By Roberto Rocha, CBC News

Hardeep Singh Grewal, the son of Punjabi sugar-cane farmers, came to Canada from India in 1972 with $7 in his pocket.

Fast-forward 44 years, and the entrepreneur owns 2,100 Subway restaurant franchises in Ontario and the U.S.

Grewal now lives in California, but he stopped by Montreal to revisit his former home — and to donate $1 million to Concordia University to endow MBA scholarships at the John Molson School of Business.

“I achieved with hard work what I wanted to accomplish: my parents’ dream to get an education,” Grewal said at a ceremony at the university Monday.

In recognition for the gift, Concordia has renamed the atrium in the business school in his and his wife’s honour: It is to be called the Hardeep (Hardy) Singh Grewal and Patwant Kaur Grewal Atrium.

Grewal hopes he will inspire future entrepreneurs to work hard and achieve their goals.

“Just have a great work ethic,” Grewal said, when asked what advice he’d give students.

“Work hard, and you’ll get anywhere.”

Working all the time

To make ends meet while attending classes, Grewal worked several jobs, including driving a taxi at night.

“I was working part-time all the time. Wherever I could find a job, I made it happen,” he said.

Hoping to start a new life in California, Grewal and his brother pooled together all the money they had and bought a Subway franchise in Sylmar, a neighbourhood in Los Angeles.

He left his wife in charge of the restaurant, while he worked a job in finance.

“It was a simple business where you don’t have to cook. Just make money and deposit it in the bank,” he said.

But when he saw that the Subway was making more money than his main job, Grewal knew he was sitting on an opportunity. So he started buying more franchises and didn’t stop.

Today, he’s Subway’s master developer in southern Ontario, operating 260 stores in the region.

Along with hard work, he credits education for his success.

“My family was always talking about education. That was my motivation,” he said. “Nobody can take that away from you.”

Your kid’s prom just got even more expensive

POLLY MOSENDZ, WASHINGTON POST

 

Parents are accustomed to being treated like human cash machines during prom season, spending close to $1,000 to guarantee that a high school dance doesn’t become an emotional catastrophe.

A hundred bucks for tickets, and hundreds more for fancy clothes-even the corsage costs $20. And before any of that begins, your kid wants $300 for a promposal. Wait, a what?

A promposal is an elaborate invitation to the prom – a concept that first gained Web traction in 2011 and now is an institution alongside limo rentals and after parties. Asking someone to the prom has been tradition for as long as there have been school dances. But the concept of promposing took on new life in the digital era. Teens now plot grandiose events to gain the attention not only of their potential date, but of everyone else on social media, in turn generating YouTube channels, Twitter , and, of course, listicles.

Students lucky enough to experience a promposal are sometimes on the receiving end of an outrageous, and often complex, feat of planning. One promposal that went viral involved the purchase of Kanye West’s popular sneaker, the Boost. Another promposal, less expensive but much more difficult to pull off, involved Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz reading on behalf of a teenager.

For the rest, it can be expensive cosmetics, Beyoncé tickets, or even a puppy. One thing they all have in common is that parents are picking up some, or all, of the tab.

Predictably, brands have gotten in on the action, looking to capitalize further on the already expensive event. National Promposal Day, March 11, was registered this year by Men’s Wearhouse Inc., which rents tuxedos for the occasion. A branded social media campaign about the day reached more than 2 million Facebook and Instagram users, and a promposal-themed SnapChat filter, made available to students at more than 18,000 American high schools, was used almost a million times.

It’s unclear how many teens ended up with dates that day, but Men’s Wearhouse is hoping it’ll lead to a boost in sales and rentals. Not to be outdone, prom dress retailers are latching onto the phenomenon in store and posting about promposals on company blogs. “We know our customers are receiving proposals, and they like reading about them,” explained Devin VanderMaas, director of marketing for Faviana, a special occasion dress retailer in New York City. “It’s also one of the more searched keywords right now. Girls who are most likely going to buy our dress are also Googling promposal stories. That’s another way for us to find new people and have them discover our brand.”

Golden Asp, a prom dress retailer in Pennsylvania, also published several promposal-themed blog posts, including the “Ultimate Promposal Guide.” Owner Jon Liney says he often hears tales of promposals from his staff and customers: “When you see a trend like this, that just adds to the significance of prom; it has to help sales.”

You know something has arrived in the teen consciousness when credit card companies take notice. Visa, which tracks prom-related expenses in an annual nationwide survey, added promposal costs to the total prom bill for the first time last year. The company found the average American household with teenagers spent $324 on promposing. Promposal spending varies around the country: New England families with teenagers come in at $431 per promposal, compared with $342 in the West, $305 in the South and $218 in the Midwest. Promposals are so prolific that they’re becoming the most expensive part of the event.

Total spending on the prom, which includes the cost of clothing, transportation, tickets, food, photographs, and the after party, is down since 2013, when it was $1,139, according to Visa. In 2014, it fell to $978 and again last year by 6 percent, to $919.

Conventional wisdom would assume wealthier families spend more on proms, and promposals, but Visa found families making less than $25,000 per year spend $1,393 on proms, compared with families that earn more than $50,000 spending just $799. Visa referred to the finding as “disconcerting,” but the study didn’t explain why this might be the case. In fact, low-income families are often encouraged to turn to charitable organizations, such as Operation Prom, for free prom dresses and tuxedos. The New York nonprofit is considering expanding those services to include promposals.

“We’ve thought about these promposals over the past two years as they’ve increasingly gotten popular,” said Operation Prom founder Noel D’Allacco. She’s working on making her organization part of the process, considering whether to encourage wealthier students to use her organization for their promposal and in the process help fund prom expenses for those less well-off. “We’ve been trying to get creative for what we can do to help that promposal come true.”

At the other end of the spectrum, getting a professional to plan a promposal is an extra chunk of change. Sarah Glick, a proposal planner at New York City’s Brilliant Event Planning, charges $495 for a concept design and a minimum $2,500 for executing the promposal. The company has been approached about a dozen times to plan a promposal, but the clients chose not to go ahead due to the price. The Heart Bandits, a Los Angeles proposal planning firm that charges $1,000 for promposal services, has received about 30 inquires about promposals and planned at least five, according to founder Michele Velazquez.

Teens have no incentive to cut cost with parents still subsidizing this much of the total prom spending

Despite the growing trend, not all teenagers are wooed by pricey promposals. “I’ve seen on Twitter where boyfriends buy their girlfriends hundreds of dollars worth of makeup to ask them, which I think is ridiculous,” said Meghan, 16, from Pueblo, Colo., whose parents requested that she be identified only by her first name. “People buy their girlfriends fishes, and puppies, and clothes, all kinds of stuff. It’s crazy.” Meghan was promposed to more simply: Her date purchased a Starbucks coffee and wrote ‘Prom?’ on the side and carried a poster reading ‘This is hard to espresso … but I’ll take a shot.’

With promposals on the upswing, parents find themselves more willing to foot the bill: In 2014, parents surveyed by Visa said they were planning to pay for 56 percent of prom costs. The next year, parents upped the amount to 73 percent. “Teens have no incentive to cut cost with parents still subsidizing this much of the total prom spending,” Visa determined. At the Heart Bandits, parents normally pay, but the teenager goes through the planning process with Velazquez’s team, filling out a questionnaire about the prospective date.

As for teenagers wooed with puppies, Beyonce ticks and more, planner Glick expects the trend will affect the traditional proposal market in the coming years. “It sets the bar so high for these girls. Where are they going to go from here for their own marriage proposal?”

Apparently, paying $4,000 for an engagement ring won’t be enough anymore.