Looking for a way to banish evil spirits? Check in to The Lighthouse, near Frome, Somerset, England, where a group called Universal Medicine will help you burp your troubles away. The group, founded by Serge Benhayon in 1999, ran up against the law last year in Sydney, Australia, where a civil court declared it a “socially harmful cult” and found that it makes false claims about healing. Members are told what to eat and whom to associate with. A girl named Kasha told the BBC her mum joined the cult when the girl was 12. “She started burping ridiculously and she said, ‘I’m just burping out bad spirits,’” Kasha said. “She’s still my mum and I love her. But she’s never going to be the person that she was.” Benhayon, a failed tennis coach who claims to be the reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci, still lives in Australia, but visits The Lighthouse twice a year.
Dumb and Dumber
Rogers, Ark., neighbors Charles Eugene Ferris and Christopher Hicks were hanging out on Ferris’ back porch, drinking and enjoying the spring air. Ferris was wearing his bulletproof vest — because why not? — and invited Hicks to shoot him with a .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle. The vest blocked the bullet from striking Ferris, but it still hurt and left a red mark on his upper chest. Next, Hicks donned the vest and Ferris “unloaded the clip into Christopher’s back,” according to the police report, also leaving bruises. That’s where it all would have ended had Ferris not gone to the hospital, where staff alerted the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. Ferris initially told officers an elaborate story about being shot while protecting “an asset” in a dramatic gunfight, but Ferris’ wife spilled the beans about the back-porch challenge. Both men were arrested for suspicion of aggravated assault.
Lack Of Interest In Pointless Sign
In downtown Borrego Springs, Calif., a curious sign tops a 5-foot-tall post in front of the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association gift shop: “This Post Not Currently In Use.” Mike McElhatton, the association’s education director, said, “When I started working (here) I saw this post that … had obviously been there for a long time. At first I just wondered what in the heck was the post for and then I got the idea to put a sign on it.” McElhatton seemed disappointed with the response, though: “Amazingly, we don’t get a whole lot of comment about it. I’ve seen people walk up and they just look at the sign and they just keep going.”
Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisc., tried a new way of staging an opera on March 30 and 31. They held the opera underwater. “Breathe: A Multidisciplinary Water Opera” featured dancers, percussionists, singers, a flutist and other musicians — some above water, some below. Composer and musical director Loren Kiyoshi Dempster said he was skeptical at first. “It’s been kind of one of the great surprises of my life that you could play cello underwater,” he said. A device used by marine biologists to record underwater sounds delivered the music above the surface for audience members.
In a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden, an off-duty police officer was enjoying a sauna when he noticed that another man in the sauna was a fugitive wanted for aggravated assault, among other offenses. The two recognized each other, police spokesperson Carina Skagerlind said. “The naked police officer calmly told the man that he should consider himself arrested.” The officer called for backup, and “the arrest was undramatic,” Skagerling said.
Anger Management: Wedding Edition
As a wedding party of 30 guests gathered on the beach at Oceanfront Park in Ocean Ridge, Fla., Jeffery E. Alvord and his bride posed for photos before the ceremony. But trouble erupted instead when a man refused to move from his spot on the beach to make way for the photos. In fact, Alvord told police, the man wouldn’t relocate even after being offered $5; instead he became “very belligerent.” So Alvord punched him in the nose. The victim told Ocean Ridge police a groomsman held him while Alvord punched him three times. The police report noted that the victim’s “nose appears to be out of place, sitting more to the right of his face,” and his glasses were broken. Alvord spent what would have been his wedding night in the Palm Beach County Jail and faces charges of aggravated battery and criminal mischief. He and his fiancee married the next day, shortly after his release from jail.
Shot Himself In The Foot
Detroit police say they can’t confirm what made a 50-year-old man shoot himself in the foot. But rumor has it that he was aiming for something entirely different. The man, who uses a wheelchair, was trying to kill a cockroach by throwing his shoe at it; the shoe contained his handgun; and the gun fell out of the shoe and discharged, with the bullet striking the man’s foot. Police said the man was in stable condition after the incident.
The harsh winter left many city streets around the country riddled with potholes. But in Muskegon Heights, Mich., one boy is not waiting for the slow-moving government to fix them. Monte Scott started filling potholes around his neighborhood with dirt from his own yard in late March. “I didn’t want people messing up their cars like my mom did,” Scott said. They “would have to pay like $600 to $700 to get their car fixed. They would be mad.” His mom, Trinell Scott, said, “That’s just the type of kid he is. He’s a good kid and there are a lot like him in the community.”
No Test Anxiety Here
At Secaucus High School in New Jersey, two freshman boys received charges of conspiracy to commit computer criminal activity after they crashed the school’s Wi-Fi network on several occasions to avoid having to take exams. Investigators believe the boys took requests from other students to jam the signals during specific times. “I was surprised on how a kid our age, or close to our age, was able to do something like this,” commented one 10th-grader. She said arresting them seemed a little heavy-handed: “They are messing with people’s education, but they aren’t harming anyone.” Superintendent Jennifer Montesano said the “system has been restored and is now fully operational.”
Drinkin’, Ridin’ and Shootin’
In Warren County, Va., Mariah Smith and another woman were enjoying a quiet horse ride through a cemetery in Middletown. But when they were asked to remove their horses from the cemetery grounds, Smith fired her .38 Smith and Wesson pistol, according to Warren County sheriff’s officers. Deputies found the women nearby and charged Smith with three firearms charges, including possessing a concealed firearm while under the influence.
Going Out in Style
Drivers along southbound Interstate 880 in Hayward, Calif., were pleasantly surprised when they saw $20 bills flying through the air. Some motorists stopped to collect as many as they could. The next day, members of a family, who wished to remain anonymous, admitted to reporters that they tossed $500 worth of bills into the air as they drove back from a funeral. The unexpected windfall was intended to honor their deceased family member. It’s an “Oakland thing,” one person explained.
Really Doesn’t Like Christmas Music
As Clayton Lucas was being transported through East Deer Township, Penn., from a halfway house to a treatment class on the morning of March 4 (69 days after Christmas), the van driver regaled him with Christmas songs. Turns out Lucas isn’t a fan of holiday tunes. So he reached into the front seat and began choking the driver, who was strangled almost to the point of losing consciousness. Another driver flagged down a state trooper and alerted him about an altercation happening on the shoulder of the highway. After a struggle to get handcuffs on Lucas, the officer deposited him in the Allegheny County Jail, where he will face multiple charges.
You’ve Got To Drink Somewhere
Elysia Johnson apparently needed some alone time, so she took a full cart and a six-pack of Stella Artois beer into a dressing room at Target in Lathrop, Calif., where she hunkered down for more than an hour. Johnson finished all the beer and left the store with $200 worth of unpurchased merchandise. A loss prevention officer stopped her and she was taken to the San Joaquin County Jail, where she was held on $60,000 bail. Johnson also had three outstanding warrants.